Jimmy Morales, a political neophyte and former TV comedian, swept into office as Guatemala’s new president Sunday when more than two-thirds of voters backed him in a second round of polling in presidential elections. Fed up with a political system infected with corruption, nepotism and criminal impunity, the voters chose a political rookie over contender Sandra Torres, a former first lady widely perceived to be part of the old power establishment. Torres conceded defeat Sunday evening, saying: “The people have made their choice, and we respect it. We are going to offer constructive support that will benefit the country.” Morales claimed victory after receiving just under 2.7 million votes — a 68.7% percent share of ballots cast — compared with 1.2 million cast for Torres, preliminary results from Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal showed.
A former comedian best known for performing in blackface and an afro wig is the odds-on favourite to become Guatemala’s new president this Sunday when he faces a former first lady in the final stage of an election overshadowed by a corruption scandal that has rocked the country’s political elite. Jimmy Morales, an evangelical Christian who is backed by retired generals implicated in civil war atrocities, has built a clear lead in the polls despite having no political experience or clear policies. The comedic actor’s popularity soared unexpectedly amid the corruption scandal which has led to dozens of high-profile arrests and unprecedented mass protests across the country. Morales took 24% of the votes in the election’s first round which was held just days after then president Otto Pérez Molina was forced to resign over a multimillion-dollar bribery case. Pérez Molina, along with his former vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, is currently in jail awaiting trial for corruption, illicit association and bribery. Morales’s plain and simple campaign slogan – “not corrupt, not a thief” – capitalised on widespread public disillusionment with the status quo.
A runoff next month will decide who will become Guatemala’s next president, with comedian-turned-politician Jimmy Morales as the race’s front-runner in the Central American nation battling a political crisis. Guatemala, a country of 15 million, is reeling from a corruption scandal that has prompted the resignation of its president, vice president and more than a dozen Cabinet members, ministers and government officials. No candidate came close to the 50% plus one needed to lock up the vote in Sunday’s election. Morales, 46, had 1.14 million votes, or more than 24%. Businessman Manuel Baldizón, 45, was running neck and neck with former first lady Sandra Torres, 59, with 19.41% and 19.25% of the vote, respectively, according to Guatemala’s electoral tribunal. Most votes have been counted and final results of the first round are expected soon.
A former television comic is heading for a runoff with either a wealthy businessman or a former first lady in voting for Guatemala’s next president, days after the Central American country’s leader resigned over a corruption scandal. With more than 96% of polling stations reporting, comedian Jimmy Morales, who has never held elective office, was leading with 24% of the vote. Businessman and longtime politician Manuel Baldizón and former first lady Sandra Torres were in a tie, each with about 19.4%. Baldizón led Torres by less than 800 votes among nearly five million votes cast. The top two finishers in the field of 14 will advance to a runoff to be held on 25 October. Analyst Christians Castillo said Morales’s surprising performance was a sign of voter discontent, “a vote of punishment” against more traditional candidates. Electoral officials estimated a nearly 80% turnout.
A former television comic was heading for a runoff with either a wealthy businessman or a former first lady in voting for Guatemala’s next president, days after the Central American nation’s leader resigned over a corruption scandal. With about 79 percent of polling stations reporting early Monday, comedian Jimmy Morales, who has never held elective office, was leading with 26 percent of the vote. He was followed by businessman and longtime politician Manuel Baldizon, with 18.5 percent, and ex-first lady Sandra Torres, with 17.7 percent. Assuming no candidate in the field of 14 gets a majority, the top two finishers advance to a runoff to be held Oct. 25. “The people are showing that they do not want a group like that for the future,” Morales said, referring to Baldizon’s LIDER party.