courts interfered in Guatemalan elections, observers’ report
According to the Organization of American States observation mission, Guatemalan political parties and other actors unnecessarily dragged the country’s June 25 elections into court.
As a result of the abuse of legal instruments by actors unhappy with the results, a high degree of uncertainty was introduced into the electoral process and the country’s democratic stability was put at risk.
A runoff election between conservative former first lady Sandra Torres and progressive former diplomat Bernardo Arévalo remained uncertified for more than two weeks. The Constitutional Court ordered a review of challenged precinct vote tallies after several losing parties requested injunctions.
Some political parties used isolated errors to cast doubt on the integrity of the election and suggest there were systemic problems. Observers were also present for the review, which produced almost identical results to preliminary results, the mission reported.
Observers declared the election “successful,” saying it was peaceful and the results were transmitted smoothly.
The Attorney General’s Office stepped in after the vote tally review revealed the results were essentially unchanged to allege that Arévalo’s Seed Movement had committed crimes when collecting signatures years ago to form a political party. The Constitutional Court granted a preliminary injunction blocking a judge’s suspension of the party’s legal status.
In less than a month, the two candidates will face off in a runoff on Aug. 20. However, legal obstacles continue to complicate the process. According to the special prosecutor who sought to suspend the Seed Movement party’s legal status, the investigation remains open.
Observers from 20 countries made up the Organization of American States’ election mission in Guatemala.