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article imageGuatemalans elect new president today amid corruption scandal

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 6, 2015 in Politics
Guatemala City - The people of Guatemala vote today in presidential elections where there is no clear favorite. The country has been immersed in the worst political crisis in decades by a wave of corruption scandals that led President Otto Pérez to jail.
The former president resigned and was sent to pretrial detention while a judge decides whether Pérez will be charged as the leader of a criminal organization responsible for a customs fraud case that led to historic protests against corruption.
The election of the new president is taking place today, Sunday September 6. About 7.5 million voters are expected to participate. Jimmy Morales, a virtually unknown comedian, appears first in the polls. Morales (46), has campaigned under the slogan "Neither Corrupt nor Thief," and hopes to win the presidency with a very diffuse program focused on institutional reforms.
Other potential candidates are conservative businessman Manuel Baldizón and former first lady Sandra Torres. The center-right Baldizón claims to have a plan developed by more than 400 experts to combat tax evasion, promote austerity in public spending, and modernize the state. Leftist candidate Sandra Torres, the former wife of ex-
Sandra Torres  presidential candidate in 2015 Guatemala Presidential election.
Sandra Torres, presidential candidate in 2015 Guatemala Presidential election.
President Alvaro Colom, closely follows Morales and Baldizón in the polls. She has campaigned on promises to boost social spending to fight poverty affecting more than half of the country’s population.
Mario Garcia, candidate of the ruling Patriotic Party, has been relegated in the polls, punished by the investigations leading to the arrest and resignation of several senior officials, including former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and the head of the Central Bank of Guatemala.
Analysts said the high number of undecided voters and potential abstentions make it difficult to predict a result. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent, as polls suggest, the top two candidates will go to a runoff on October 25.
Once president Otto Pérez (64) was sent to pretrial detention this week, the Congress nominated vice president Alejandro Maldonado to run the government until January, when the mandate of Pérez, a retired general who came to power in 2012, should have ended.
The next president will face a complex political and economic situation, with an outraged citizenry demanding measures against corruption in a country that despite sustained growth in the last two decades has not reduced huge inequalities.
More about Guatemala, Presidential election, Political corruption, Jimmy Morales, Customs fraud
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