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Guatemala - 2019 Election

General elections will be held in Guatemala 16 June 2019 to elect the President and Congress, with a second round of the presidential elections to be held in August if no candidate wins a majority in the first round. Incumbent President Jimmy Morales is constitutionally prohibited from running for a second four-year term.

The President is elected by absolute majority vote through a two-round system to serve a 4-year term. In the Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica) 158 members are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system to serve 4-year terms. Of the 158 members, 127 are departmental-level representatives selected through 22 departmental lists; 31 are national-level representatives selected in one, nationwide district. Votes are tabulated using the D'Hondt method.

By July 2018 at least 10 political parties had already shown their cards and begun to mention who could be the next presidential candidates for the 2019 electoral contest. There were four women and six men who are mentioned as possible candidates. At that time there were 25 legally registered political parties. Three of them are suspended and the National Front of Convergence party (FCN-Nation) faces a cancellation process, so that there are currently 21 organizations, all authorized to compete in the elections, whose convocation is scheduled for January 2019.

On 12 September 2018 more than 2,000 police and troops blocked off parts of the city center as farmers and students marched for the third day in a row. Thousands of Guatemalan police and soldiers locked down the center of the capital on Wednesday amid protests over the government's move to shutter a UN-backed anti-graft commission that has called for the president's impeachment. In late August, Morales said the country would not renew the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) that had brought down his predecessor and also tried to have Morales impeached. The United Nations has expressed serious concerns about the decision.

Working with Guatemala's attorney general, the CICIG in 2017 sought to prosecute Morales, a former comedian, over illegal financing allegations during his election campaign two years earlier. The government had given the commission a year to exit the country and officials barred the CICIG's head Ivan Velasquez from entering the country. Demonstrators were also protesting two legislative initiatives that lawmakers who back Morales are aiming to pass in the coming days.

The official campaign period for the 16 June 2019 general elections kicked off on 18 March 2019. Of the 27 political parties in the Central American nation, 24 declared presidential candidates. An August 11 presidential runoff is expected. The three individuals expected to lead the presidential race are the runner-up from the previous election, a former attorney general, and the daughter of an ex-dictator who stood trial for genocide. But all three were mired in controversy and legal battles that could exclude them from the ballot. On 01 April 2019, the electoral tribunal ruled to annul the registration of former Attorney General and Semilla party presidential hopeful Thelma Aldana as a candidate, upholding challenges by political rivals. The major setback came on the heels of a warrant for Aldana's arrest. By law, from the moment candidates are registered they have immunity from prosecution and arrest that can only be stripped through special proceedings. But despite Aldana's initial registration, officials stated that immunity would only come after legal challenges were resolved and that the warrant remained in effect. Aldana's is not the only candidacy embroiled in court proceedings. The eligibility of Zury Rios, the right-wing Valor party's presidential candidate, will soon be the subject of a final Constitutional Court ruling. Rios is the daughter of Efrain Rios Montt, a former military ruler who was convicted of genocide in 2013. Her eligibility had been in dispute, with the Supreme Court ruling she can run and the Constitutional Court ruling she cannot. The candidacy of Sandra Torres, the candidate of National Unity of Hope (UNE) party expected to lead the race for president, is currently not the subject of a legal battle but she may end up in court anyway. The UNE was founded as a social-democratic party, but as investigations into government corruption broadened, it has recently occasionally aligned itself with the ruling party and others in Congress. The alliance has been popularly dubbed the "Pact of the Corrupt", accused of conspiring to mutually safeguard immunity from prosecution.

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