Thursday, January 27, 2011
Elections News in Guatemala
The TSE recently fined three political parties $125 each for violating campaign rules - the Patriotic Party, CREO, the PAN. A fourth political party, Victoria, was admonished for distributing flyers but since it was its first offense, the fine was waived. The PP, CREO, Victoria, and PAN now join UNE, Unionista, GANA, FRG, Lider, and EG, each of which was fined earlier this year or late last year. There are still thirteen parties to go before the TSE has fined everyone. Let's get a move on.
That's 45 sanctions so far. We're probably going to see an increase in the number of fines as campaigning really seems to have picked up in recent days and congress has been unwilling to increase the maximum penalty that the TSE can levy. Working against more sanctions, however, is the fact that the TSE just doesn't have enough personnel to oversee each of the twenty-five political parties.
Manuel Villacorta foresees a violent campaign season in an interview Prensa Libre and fears that the campaign will only serve to further discredit the political system. As most do, he sees UNE and PP as the two strongest parties heading into the September 4. What was interesting is that he believes that the PP might have made some inroads in the rural vote compared to 2007 that might make a difference in 2011.
While it's not certain that Sandra Torres will be the UNE candidate, three of her allies were just selected to lead the party heading into this year's elections. While most parties have accepted September 11 as the day of the vote, UNE is still unhappy. According to UNE representatives, they do not believe that it is appropriate to hold the election in Guatemala on a day when so many people died in New York. Others believe that UNE doesn't want anyone to make fun of the Colom sisters (Sandra and Gloria), portraying them as two burning towers, during their campaign.
Recently Colom and civil society have warned about organized crime infiltrating the electoral process. Barring any radical changes in the next two weeks, the country's political parties will sign an ethics pact on February 7 to try to address these concerns. The pact will add some transparency to how campaigns are financed by requiring each party to submit a monthly list of the names of their donors and their financial contributions. They will provide this information to the TSE. I can't remember where I read it, but there seemed to be some concern that this won't do much for municipal elections where the influence of organized crime is of the greatest concern.