Guatemalans vote in hotly contested presidential race

Guatemala City, June 25 (EFE).- Millions of Guatemalans lined up in front of thousands of polling centers on Sunday to vote for the country’s new president and vice president, who will serve a new four-year term amid concerns that the election might lead to a second round run-off in August.

The polling centers opened at 7 am local time and will close at 6 pm.

Around 9.3 million people are eligible to vote in the elections, the 11th since the largest Central American country became a democracy in 1986.

However, experts have not ruled out a high percentage of voter abstention due to apathy towards the political class in Guatemala’s nascent democracy. Voting is not mandatory in the country, which has a population of 18 million.

In the 2019 elections, the abstention rate was 39 percent, while in 2015, it was 29 percent.

Authorities have set up 3,482 polling stations, mostly in public schools across the country’s 22 provinces.

Each voter will receive five different color-coded ballots at the voting table to secretly mark their choices for president and vice president, municipal mayors, national and regional lawmakers, and legislators for the Central American parliament.

The main focus of the election is the presidency, which is being contested by three main candidates from Guatemala’s traditional political parties. None of them is expected to secure a majority.

The incumbent president, Alejandro Giammattei, is barred by law from seeking re-election.

A survey conducted by the ProDatos firm predicted that former first lady Sandra Torres (2008-2012) of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) might be the leading candidate, but with support levels not exceeding 21 percent.

This is Torres’ third consecutive attempt to win the presidency. She previously lost in the second rounds of the two previous elections in 2015 and 2019.

Former United Nations diplomat Edmond Mulet is expected to secure the second spot with 13.4 percent support, while conservative candidate Zury Ríos Sosa is projected to come in third with 9.1 percent. Sosa is the daughter of coup leader Efraín Ríos Montt. EFE


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