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Former First Lady and current presidential candidate Sandra Torres during a campaign rally in Guatemala. Former First Lady Sandra Torres, who is running for president with the National Unity of Hope party, UNE, shows her candidate ID to supporters during a campaign rally, Mixco, Guatemala, May 25, 2019 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Attempts to Derail an Anti-Corruption Campaign Have Upended Guatemala’s Election

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Guatemalans vote Sunday in what looks like one of the most unpredictable elections in their country’s recent history. Across an extremely fragmented field, a total of 19 candidates, whittled down from the original 24, are competing for the presidency. Nearly two dozen political parties are also chasing seats in the 160-seat, single-chamber Congress and in 340 municipalities around the country, which, with a population of more 17 million, is the largest in Central America—and where a landmark fight against corruption has taken a U-turn.

In a field otherwise skewed to the center and to the right, opinion polls favor former First Lady Sandra Torres, an experienced but controversial leader of the social-democratic National Unity of Hope party, known by its Spanish acronym, UNE. Trailing her are a range of challengers jockeying for position on the center right, led by Alejandro Giammattei of the Vamos party, Roberto Arzu of PAN-Podemos and Edmundo Mulet of the Guatemalan Humanist Party. Those three are considered contenders to make it through to a second-round runoff against Torres, set for Aug. 11 if, as seems likely, no candidate gets 50 percent or more of the vote in the first round. ...

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