Photo Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images via Time
This November, voters in five countries across Latin America head to the polls. In Chile, Argentina, and Honduras, the electorate will have an opportunity to choose from an array of candidates from different ideological backgrounds. In Nicaragua and Venezuela, free and fair elections are far from guaranteed.
This Sunday, November 7, general elections will take place in Nicaragua, with President Daniel Ortega seeking a fourth consecutive term in office. As Ryan Berg of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Global Americans in an interview this week, Ortega is “assured a large electoral victory.” In the months leading up to the election, Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have jailed opposition candidates, shut down newspapers, and courted diplomatic isolation from the United States, the European Union, and the Organization of American States. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the RENACER Act, a bill that would sanction Nicaraguan officials who are complicit in corruption and abuse, as well as withdraw U.S. support for international lending to Nicaragua. The act is now pending President Biden’s signature.
A week following Nicaragua’s election—on Sunday, November 14—Argentines will vote to fill 24 of the 72 seats in the Senate and 127 of 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Currently, the Frente de Todos coalition, led by President Alberto Fernández, holds a majority in the Senate, while the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition maintains a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. In the Argentine primary election (PASO) held in mid-September, however, Juntos por el Cambio won a resounding 41.5 percent of votes, compared to 31.8 percent of votes for Frente de Todos. Following the PASO results, President Fernández faced open criticism from his vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, as well as a spate of resignations from cabinet members aligned with the vice president.
On November 21, two countries will head to the ballot boxes. First, Chile will hold general elections, with candidates running for 27 seats in the Senate, all 155 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and the presidency. Recent polls show a close race to replace incumbent President Sebastián Piñera, who is prevented by term limits from running again. Gabriel Boric, of the Apruebo Dignidad coalition, and José Antonio Kast, of the right-wing Republican Party, are the two current frontrunners. In four polls published between October 31 and November 4, Boric and Kast placed within five percentage points of each other. Two polls showed Kast leading, one showed Boric ahead, and another indicated a tie. Center-left candidate Yasna Provoste and center-right Sebastián Sichel round out the race. The two leading candidates in this month’s election will advance to a runoff election in December if no single candidate achieves 50 percent of votes in the general election.
Venezuelans will vote on the same day as voters in Chile, but in a very different context. Regional and municipal elections are scheduled in Venezuela for November 21, following a decision by opposition parties to end their boycott of elections under the regimes of President Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Recent elections in Venezuela have garnered international controversy: during and after the country’s 2018 campaign, the United States, European Union, and Organization of American States announced that the vote did not meet the standards for a free and fair election, and following Maduro’s 2019 inauguration, around 60 countries around the world recognized Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. This year’s elections will receive an observation mission from the European Union; as Christopher Sabatini argued in Global Americans last month, whether the EU mission helps or hinders efforts toward a democratic transition in Venezuela depends largely on whether the mission “upholds decades-old principles and election standards.”
Finally, Honduras will hold presidential, legislative, and local elections on November 28, as well as elections for the Central American Parliament. The two leading presidential candidates are Nasry Asfura—mayor of the capital city, Tegucigalpa, and member of the ruling conservative National Party—and Xiomara Castro, a two-time presidential candidate and founding member of the leftist Libre party. The winner of this month’s election will succeed President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose eight years in office have been tainted by corruption accusations, connections with drug trafficking organizations, and allegations of electoral fraud during the 2017 election.