Comedian Jimmy Morales of the National Convergence Front appears to have capitalized on anti-system vote in Guatemala to advance to a second round runoff against either Manuel Baldizon or Sandra Torres. A few thousand votes separate the second two candidates but, at this point, Baldizon leads Torres.
It's been amazing to watch Baldizon's fall these last few months. He's been campaigning for the presidency for the last six-plus years and had been the favorite up until this summer's corruption scandals. I don't know if the results would have been different otherwise but trying to protect Otto Perez Molina does not seem to have been a wise campaign move by the heir apparent.
I thought that UNE was dead after Torres' shenanigans in the 2011 campaign (I'm divorcing my husband out of love for my country). However, Torres and UNE still have support in the countryside because of the social programs they launched during Alvaro Colom's administration and somewhat represent a social democratic option for voters (among other things).
As I wrote on Sunday in "Elections amid Uncertainty," turnout would likely prove higher than 2003 (56 percent) but perhaps not as strong as 2007 (60 percent) and 2011 (69 percent). It looks like 65 percent turned out to vote, an excellent turnout.
If I were Morales, I would be hoping for a Baldizon victory. While he has plenty of money to finance his campaign and to pay the fines for violating campaign rules, citizens are as equally frustrated with him as they are Otto Perez Molina and he is just as likely to end up in the same place as Perez is prior to October's vote (okay, maybe not equally). I'm not sure Guatemalans want to recycle the Colom/Torres years, but a center-left versus right runoff would probably give Morales more problems.
I should have more in a day or two.