What are the Guatemalan elections for this month?

Guatemala holds national elections on Sept. 11 with ballots for president / vice president, 158 departmental Congress members (diputados) and 333 mayors (alcaldes)—each with a four-year term—plus a ballot for 20 members for the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) with a five-year term. The 1986 Constitution limits the presidency to one term. Congress members and mayors may run for re-election.

Guatemala has 7,374,453 registered voters among a population of 14.4 million people. More than 50% of the registered voters are women and more than 1 million voters are between the ages of 18-25.

With elections held only every four years, it will be particularly interesting to see where the country’s emerging democracy is heading. With presidential candidates from 28 political parties, runoff elections with the top two presidential / vice presidential tickets are expected.

Voter statistics include literate and illiterate voters, but ballots are easily read with party symbols to mark an “X.” 

La Antigua’s population is estimated at 58,000 with 70% living in one of 23 villages (aldeas) incorporated in the city limits, and 93% of the 30,000+ voters are registered as literate. In addition to the presidential race, Antigua’s ballot includes three diputados for the Department of Sacatepéquez and one mayor, along with candidates for PARLACEN.

The winner of the mayor’s race will also serve as president of the National Council for the Protection of Antigua (the governmental agency in charge of the restoration of the city) as established in the 1969 Protective Law for the City of Antigua.

In recent years, newspapers indicate who is ahead in the polls and more than 77% of the population considers itself “nationalist,” which could be interpreted as patriotic. Updates are posted daily on www.tse.org.gt

On Sept. 12, we should know about the presidential runoff and who the winning political parties and civic committees in Antigua will appoint for the seven City Council seats.

Many believe it is a time for change and we may see this during the next four years with an emerging democracy, increasing literacy and improving economy. The new government takes office on January 15.

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