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Who's competing for power in 2013?

Brought to you by LatinNews

FEB, 2013

There are a number of key electoral tests in Latin America during 2013, including presidential elections in Ecuador (17 February), Paraguay (21 April), Honduras (10 November) and Chile (17 November). In addition, there are mid-term elections in Argentina (October) and municipal elections in Venezuela (26 May). In the Caribbean, there are general elections in Grenada (19 February), Barbados (by May and the Cayman Islands (22 May).

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa (Alianza País - AP) is looking to make history by seeking to secure a second consecutive re-election in order to become Ecuador’s longest-serving president. Given that AP remains the leading political force in the country, and opinion polls put support for him at over 50%, Correa will win. Yeta political novice, Guillermo Lasso, who is a former banker, has injected life into an otherwise stale campaign by criticizing the Correa administration’s mismanagement of the country’s finances and accusing it of insufficient social spending. Lasso has declared that if elected he would substantially increase the government’s cash transfer scheme for the poor (BDH). This allowed Lasso, who is running for the Creo movement, to gain overnight popularity.

Paraguay: The upcoming presidential and legislative elections in Paraguay follow the impeachment of former President Fernando Lugo (2008-2012) by a hostile Congress in June 2012. Lugo, who managed to unite the Left as well as forge an alliance with the center-right Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA) in the last general elections to unseat the Asociación Nacional Republicana- Partido Colorado (ANR-PC), which had remained in power for over 60 years, was unable to stay in power after losing the PLRA’s support 4 years into his 5-year term.

The PLRA retained power with Lugo’s Vice President (now President) Federico Franco, and it has opted against re-forging a wide-based alliance with the Left, refusing to enter into an electoral alliance with Frente Guasú (FG), the leftist coalition of parties that has coalesced around Lugo. Instead the PLRA’s presidential candidate, Efraín Alegre, has sought to seal an alliance with the moderate Left by choosing Rafael Filizzola, the leader of the small Partido Democrático Progresista (PDP) as his running mate. While Alegre and Filizzola are in front in many polls, they are not the favorites to win the presidential contest. That label is currently held by Horacio Cartes, the ANR-PC’s presidential candidate. The ANR-PC has the largest party affiliation in the country and has the only truly national party machinery.

Honduras: The main contenders for the presidency are Juan Orlando Hernández, Partido Nacional (PN); Mauricio Villeda, Partido Liberal (PL); Xiomara Castro, Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre); Salvador Nasralla, Partido Anticorrupción (PAC); and General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, Alianza Patriótica Hondureña (APH).

The problems besetting the PL after the June 2009 coup meant that the PN was the only real choice in 2009. The PL has yet to get over its internal problems, making the PN a strong bet to retain power for a second term. However, the PN might also struggle to present a united front moving forward amid the intense animosity between the rival factions led by Hernández and Ricardo Álvarez. This could benefit Castro. However, she is adamant that if she were to win she would convene a national constituent assembly. This might stop her winning over moderates keen to avoid a repeat of the crisis which culminated in Zelaya’s removal from power for attempting to convene a constituent assembly.

Chile: The main contenders are: the ruling Coalición por el Cambio of President Sebastián Piñera (comprising his right-of-center Renovación Nacional [RN] and the traditional right-wing Unión Demócrata Independiente [UDI]) and the quadripartite left-wing opposition Concertación. Neither coalition has yet named their candidates, although the UDI has officially proclaimed Laurence Golborne, the Right’s most popular political figure and until recently Piñera’s star public works minister, as its pre-candidate. Other contenders include Marco Enríquez-Ominami (Partido Progresista de Chile, PRO) and Franco Parisi (independent).

According to the latest poll by the pollster Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Contemporanea (Cerc), Golborne had 76% approval shortly before he stepped down for the presidential race. He will face another star former minister (defense) Andrés Allamand, pre-candidate for the RN, who recorded an approval of 73% at the time of his departure.

A key question is whether the highly popular former president, Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010) (of the Concertación’s Partido Socialista - PS) will run. Bachelet tops the polls with 43% compared with 13% for Golborne, 7% for Enríquez-Ominami; 6% for Farisi, and 6% for Allamand.

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LatinNews has been the source of political, economic, security and strategic analysis since 1967. LatinNews serves as a comprehensive intelligence resource on 33 countries in Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean. A broad portfolio of publications and a searchable online database provide subscribers with analysis on key events. LatinNews Consulting also provides bespoke research and business intelligence for clients with interests in the region, drawing on an unrivaled network of in-country correspondents, contacts and subject-experts to deliver client-focused intelligence for businesses and governments.

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