A survey from CID Gallup shows that Bernardo Arevalo is ahead of conservative rival Sandra Torres in Sunday’s primary voting.
A new public opinion poll released days before Guatemala’s presidential race shows former dark horse candidate Bernardo Arevalo heading into the vote with a solid lead.
Arevalo, a candidate for the progressive Movimiento Semilla or Seed Movement, is expected to win 61 percent, according to a survey published Wednesday by research firm CID Gallup.
Such a victory would mark a major upset against first-time frontrunner Sandra Torres, a former first lady representing the conservative party National Unity of Hope (UNE).
Torres and Arevalo are set to face off in a run-off election on August 20, the culmination of a bumpy presidential race rocked by fears of political interference.
On June 25, Arevalo surprised the political establishment with an unexpected strong finish in the first round of voting.
The son of Guatemala’s first democratically elected president and a member of Congress himself, Arevalo got 11.8 percent of the vote, a total surpassed only by Torres’ 15.7 percent. No other candidate polled higher than 8 percent.
That result pushed Arevalo and Torres to the run-off last Sunday. But after the success of Arevalo’s first round, rival parties questioned whether the vote tally was accurate, asking the court system for a review.
That continuation ultimately supported the results – but on the same day that the electoral tribunal certified the vote, the Office of the Attorney General successfully petitioned a court to suspend Arevalo’s Seed Movement.
Prosecutors claimed that 5,000 signatures used to form the party were fraudulent.
Legal experts quickly criticized the move as a violation of Guatemalan law, which prohibits the suspension of a party’s legal status amid ongoing elections. And the country’s Constitutional Court finally overturned the lower court’s suspension.
But the Attorney General’s Office continued to act against the Seed Movement, ordering police to raid party offices for evidence.
Police raids also targeted the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the country’s electoral authority. The tribunal eventually requested an injunction against the Attorney General’s Office to ensure the integrity of the election.
The Guatemalan government has long grappled with allegations of corruption, as prosecutors pursue prominent journalists, judges, lawyers and public accountability advocates in what critics consider to be fabricated. cases.
The country’s attorney general, Maria Consuelo Porras, herself was sanctioned by the United States “due to her involvement in significant corruption”.
“During his tenure, Porras repeatedly obstructed and undermined anti-corruption investigations in Guatemala to protect his political allies and gain undue political favor,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. in a statement.
Corruption has emerged as one of the central issues of the 2023 presidential campaign, where Arevalo has positioned himself as a champion of the anti-corruption movement.
Torres, on the other hand, pushed a platform based on greater government transparency. But he has also faced corruption allegations in the past and was briefly arrested in 2019 on suspicion of campaign finance violations. A judge eventually dismissed the case.
A CID Gallup poll on Wednesday found that 52 percent of Guatemalans surveyed are optimistic that the country will improve under his leadership, while only 6 percent said the same of Torres.