New GIGA Focus Latin America | Guatemala: A Vote for Turning the Tide

Sabine Kurtenbach, Désirée Reder, and Alina Ripplinger.

Guatemala: A Vote for Turning the Tide .

In the surprise victory of Bernardo Arévalo in Guatemala’s run-off presidential elections in August 2023, various elements came together: elite miscalculation, broad mobilisation of civil society, and some remnants of the rule of law. In Central America, authoritarianism has been on the rise for two decades now. If Arévalo and his political reform agenda prevail, a turning point could be marked.

Central American countries have seen a significant rolling back of democratic reforms and institutions. Nicaragua is once more a family dictatorship; El Salvador is on its way to electoral authoritarianism. The recent election of reformist Arévalo might be a sign that changing track via elections is indeed possible.

Arévalo faced a bumpy road from election victory on 20 August 2023 to inauguration on 14 January of this year, as corrupt elites weaponised Guatemala’s judicial system, trying to prevent him from taking office and undermining his ability to govern. Their remaining state control and connection to both state and non-state armed actors will also limit the new government’s scope for action.

Significant challenges are looming for the new Guatemalan government. It does not have a majority in Congress and some of Arévalo’s staunchest adversaries, such as Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta, are still in office. Strengthening democratic oversight mechanisms, re-establishing judicial independence, and nurturing an active civil society will be crucial for tackling authoritarian tendencies.

Policy Implications

Democratic-reform actors and civil society rarely control important resources vis-à-vis the state and economy. They face, rather, severe attacks, thus needing the international community’s support. Due to uncertainty about the United States’ future agenda, the European Union must play a more prominent role in revitalising democracy and supporting reformist actors in Guatemala and Central America.

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REGARDS CNRS (12 de febrero de 2024). New GIGA Focus Latin America | Guatemala: A Vote for Turning the Tide. Redial & Ceisal. Recuperado 18 de julio de 2024 de

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