On Sunday, 9.3 million Guatemalans headed to the polls for the presidential runoff between Sandra Torres from the National Unity of Hope (UNE) and the progressive scholar Bernardo Arevalo from the Seed Movement (Semilla).
This electoral process has been the most controversial in Guatemala since the establishment of democracy in 1986, marred by the prominent role of the Public Ministry, which has attempted to annul the Seed Movement and hinder Arevalo's participation.
Moreover, these elections hold at stake the continuity of a system that has weakened democracy and ensured impunity for traditional politicians in this Central American country.
At 10:00 am, Sandra Torres called for honesty in the electoral process, stating: "We are going to wait for the results with the team and with the game."
Torres, who is a 67-years-old conservative politician, lost the runoff elections in 2015 and 2019, and experts believe her connection to corruption cases generates strong anti-votes in urban areas.
In the first round on June 25, Torres secured the first place with nearly 900,000 votes, representing around 15 percent of the electorate.
���� #Guatemala, the largest economy in Central America yet one of the most unequal, chooses between Arévalo (Semilla) and Torres (UNE) today. At stage, the possibility of a new democratizing moment.— Jesús de la Torre (@JesussdelaTorre) August 20, 2023
5️⃣ keys to watch these elections according to what we’ve heard in communities. pic.twitter.com/kjSY5ge81l
While, at 09:00 am, Bernardo Arevalo cast his vote in downtown Guatemala and stated: "Guatemalans, this is the moment to vote with joy. Let's head out and vote early," said the 64-year-old progressive candidate from La Patria High School.
Arevalo, 64-year-old, surprised everyone on June 25 by securing the second place with over 600,000 votes.
Moreover, in the week leading up to the runoff, polls favor Arevalo with 61 percent of the intended vote, while Torres accumulates 37 percent.
The reception of votes in the 3,468 polling stations enabled for the presidential election in the second round closed at 18:00 local time this Sunday.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) reported a day without major incidents.
However, there were reports of threats sent by cell phone to high authorities, among them Aguilera and TSE magistrate Blanca Alfaro; the Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told local media, without revealing further details, that "the place where the phone was purchased has been located."
A few hours later after the polls closed, the presidential candidate of the Seed Movement, Bernardo Arévalo was declared the virtual winner in the second round of presidential elections with more than 20 percentage points over his rival, Sandra Torres.
The preliminary scrutiny of the presidential ballot in Guatemala shows an already irreversible advantage of the candidate Bernardo Arévalo, of the center-left Seed Movement.
Felicito a los guatemaltecos por la realización de las #EleccionesGT2023 en paz, con pocos incidentes aislados.— Alejandro Giammattei (@DrGiammattei) August 21, 2023
Felicito también a @BArevalodeLeon y extiendo la invitación para iniciar la #TransiciónGT ordenada, al día siguiente de que los resultados queden oficializados.
With 96% of the ballots counted, Arevalo has 59.2% of the popular support, against 36.2% of his rival, Sandra Torres, of the conservative National Unity of Hope.
Figures from local authorities show that Arevalo received 2.3 million votes, against 1.4 million for candidate Torres, with a total citizen participation of 44.92% and an abstention of 55%.
Thus, Arevalo would be the next Guatemalan president for the period 2024-2028. He would be the first progressive leftist president in the South American country.