Prensa Libre has its final poll for Sunday's presidential elections in Guatemala. According to the poll carried out October 26 to 28, Otto Perez Molina of the Patriotic Party leads 58.5% to 41.5% over Manuel Baldizon of LIDER. When you factor in blank and null votes (5.7%), Perez leads 54.6% to 38.7%.
It's pretty certain that the former general is going to win this weekend. However, Perez won three out of four November polls back in 2007 before he was ultimately defeated by Alvaro Colom. Obviously, this election is different from that one - Perez is more of a well-known commodity, the choice back then was the right vs. center/center-left, mano dura vs. a more comprehensive approach to violence.
While we can't know for sure how the victor is going to govern, I do worry about their plans to pursue more mano dura policies towards gangs and cartels. It's not really my area of expertise, but those policies didn't really work out to well (yet?) in Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. Each country's murder rate increased after the implementation of mano dura policies.
In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega is poised to win a first round victory. Boz has some thoughts on the elections as does Tim Rogers. While Ortega and the FSLN get pretty low marks for democracy and the rule of law, the economy is growing, poverty is declining, and the streets of Managua and the rest of the country are much safer than those of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. While I can't say that Ortega has been a force for democracy in the country (and might be bad in the medium- to long-term), I can understand why he is favored to win.
Honestly, I don't "care" who wins this weekend's elections. I don't care if it is Perez or Baldizon, Ortega or Gadea, or the FMLN or ARENA in March. It's more important to me that whoever wins governs in the best interests of the Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, and Salvadoran people.