Elections in Guatemala: Who is Bernardo Arévalo, New President?

This Sunday, August 20, the second round of presidential elections in Guatemala took place. Bernardo Arévalo is the elected president. Here we tell you who he is.

Bernardo Arevalo

Photo: Bernardo Arevalo

LatinAmerican Post | Staff

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Leer en español: Elecciones en Guatemala: ¿Quién es Bernardo Arévalo, su nuevo presidente?

He was the surprise candidate in both rounds and belongs to the Movimiento Semilla. Bernardo Arévalo was elected president of Guatemala this Sunday August 20 with 58% of the votes. He will be the most progressive president since the return to democracy in the Central American country. He was also an opposition candidate whose flag was the fight against corruption. He will take office on January 14, 2024. Here, we tell you everything about the electoral contest and the profile of the new president of Guatemala.

What was the electoral landscape?

In this second round, Bernardo Arévalo beat the former first lady, Sandra Torres. This candidate, who won 37% of the votes, represented the continuity of the current government, chaired by Alejandro Giammattei. Arévalo, on the contrary, presented himself as the politician of change, who denounces and fights against acts of corruption in traditional politics. So in the second round the electoral panorama was very clear: ruling party vs. change.

In the elections of the last couple of years in Latin America, there has been a common phenomenon: the democracies of the region have favored the so-called "outsiders"; that is, candidates outside of traditional politics who criticize the current governments and who promise change. Sometimes this phenomenon has leaned to the right —as in the case of Milei in Argentina— and sometimes to the left —as in the case of Gustavo Petro in Colombia and now Bernardo Arévalo in Guatemala.

The electoral landscape in Guatemala, then, was highly uncertain. Until a few days ago, in fact, it was not clear if Arévalo could continue in the presidential race. This, because the party for which he presented himself, Movimiento Semilla, was the target of investigations by the Guatemalan Prosecutor's Office. The now president-elect, however, pointed to these investigations as political persecution during the campaign and affirmed that this is further proof of the corruption that the country suffers from.

Who is Bernardo Arevalo?

Although Arévalo's election represents a change in Guatemalan politics of the last decade, it could not be said that he is, strictly speaking, an "outsider." The president-elect is the son of Juan José Arévalo, the first elected president of Guatemala after the 1944 Revolution.

He was born in Uruguay during his father's exile and returned to Guatemala when he was 15 years old. He studied sociology and was currently a congressman for the Movimiento Semilla. Some say he will be the first left-wing president of the democratic era. Other analysts differ from this position and recall the presidency of Álvaro Cólom, husband of Arévalo's electoral rival, Sandra Torres.

His main flag during the electoral campaign was the fight against corruption, since, like the rest of the region, it is one of the ills that afflicts Guatemala. Among his campaign promises in this regard is to request the resignation of the current nation's attorney, Consuelo Porras, who is on the list of "corrupt and undemocratic officials" in the United States.

The rest of his proposals are similar to those of other progressive leaders in the region. And among his biggest challenges is reconciling differences with the Guatemalan elites, who will be his greatest opposition.

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