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Crucial elections to take place across Latin America in 2021

. Jan 28, 2021
Crucial elections to take place across Latin America in 2021 Peruvians protest in Cuzco after Congress removed President Martín Vizcarra. Photo: Nichimar/Shutterstock

Ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic with almost 18.6 million cases and more than 584,000 deaths, the year 2021 in Latin America is set to be a mix of hope for vaccination rollouts, tinged with desperate attempts to re-establish local economies. However, amid all this, several of the region’s countries are set to go to the polls for crucial elections that will define the post-outbreak period. 

Even during the height of the pandemic last year, a few Latin American countries managed to hold successful elections. The first was the Dominican Republic, back in July, where President Luis Abinader was elected in a campaign that was forced to make a quick U-turn to deal with the nascent health crisis.

Among the most emblematic of 2020’s elections in Latin America came in Bolivia, where the left-wing Movement for Socialism (MAS) party won a landslide victory one year after leading figurehead Evo Morales was deposed as president in a military coup.

Last but not least, Chile went to the polls to tear up its dictatorship-era Constitution, with the process of drafting a new national charter set to begin this year.

Throughout 2021, a number of Latin American countries will hold local or presidential elections, and The Brazilian Report has summed up everything you need to know from around the region.

</p> <h2>Ecuador: February 7&nbsp;</h2> <p>Elected in 2017, President Lenín Moreno&#8217;s term ends on May 24 this year and there is a field packed full of candidates looking to succeed him.</p> <p>Of the 16 set to be on the ballot, the favorite is politician and economist Andrés Arauz, who is backed by former President Rafael Correa — Mr. Moreno&#8217;s rival, who is currently in exile in Belgium. The ex-president even tried to run as Mr. Arauz&#8217;s vice president, but his attempt was blocked by the Ecuadorian courts.</p> <p>In order to win in the first round, the leading candidate requires 50 percent of the vote, or 40 percent with a lead of 10 percent on their closest rival. If no first-round winner is reached, the country returns to the polls for a runoff.&nbsp;</p> <p>Beyond picking the new president, Ecuador will also elect 137 members of Congress and the country&#8217;s five representatives at the <a href="https://www.as-coa.org/articles/explainer-ecuadors-2021-presidential-elections">Andean Parliament</a>.</p> <h2>El Salvador: February 28</h2> <p>At the end of next month, the Central American nation of El Salvador will hold legislative and municipal elections, choosing 84 lawmakers and 262 municipal councillors. This will be the first midterm vote since President Nayib Bukele took office in June 2019 and could give the head of state serious breathing room were his New Ideas party to perform well. Mr. Bukele has had a turbulent relationship with the current Congress, causing a frenzy when he <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/04/28/el-salvador-coronavirus-authoritarianism/">used the pandemic as an excuse to violate the human rights of El Salvador&#8217;s prison population</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Before Covid-19, he also called upon the Armed Forces to storm Congress and put pressure on lawmakers to approve a budgetary measure.</p> <h2>Peru: April 11</h2> <p>Peru bounced from one crisis to another in 2020, posting the world&#8217;s highest rate of Covid-19 deaths per capita and managing to go through three presidents in the space of seven days after President <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/11/10/the-future-peru-following-ousting-of-another-president/">Martín Vizcarra was ousted</a> by a vacancy motion.</p> <p>The April elections are seen as a chance to end the country’s perpetual institutional crisis, as Peruvians elect their new president to replace stand-in Francisco Sagasti.</p> <h2>Mexico: June 6</h2> <p>While election day has not been confirmed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mexican midterm vote is set to take place in early June, with 500 lawmakers being elected for three-year terms. Of this total, 300 will be elected by a simple majority in each of country&#8217;s electoral districts. The remaining 200 seats will be allocated proportionally to the losing candidates with the most votes. President López Obrador’s Morena party is expected to expand — or at least maintain — its majority in Congress.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Argentina: October 24</h2> <p>Amid a recent surge of progressive policies — with the approval of <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/11/24/following-uruguay-argentina-takes-step-toward-legalizing-cannabis/">medicinal marijuana</a>, abortion laws and<a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/05/13/argentina-big-fortunes-latin-america-covid-19-news-roundup/"> wealth taxes</a> — Argentina’s legislative branch will undergo some modifications in 2021. Half of the seats in the country&#8217;s House of Representatives will be up for grabs, while one-third of the Senate will also be put to a vote.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Nicaragua: November 7</h2> <p>This year could be a defining point in the political history of Nicaragua. Ruled by former Sandinista guerrilla leader Daniel Ortega since 2006, the country has seen its head of state become increasingly anti-democratic and may look to push Mr. Ortega out in November&#8217;s election. There is a snag, however: despite <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/03/27/nicaragua-turns-a-blind-eye-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/">President Ortega’s Covid-19 denialism</a>, the Nicaraguan <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/11/06/with-elections-a-year-away-opposition-to-ortega-splits-in-nicaragua/">opposition is highly fragmented</a> and it is unclear whether a coalition will be able to muster enough strength to defeat the Sandinistas.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Chile: November 21</h2> <p>After a momentous 2020 which saw Chile vote to tear up its Constitution — drafted during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet — this year will be crucial in defining the short-, medium-, and long-term future of the nation.</p> <p>In April, the electorate will vote on the members of the Constitutional Assembly tasked with writing Chile&#8217;s new national charter. Then, in November, presidential elections will take place, picking who will run the country between 2022 and 2026. Since 2006, the office of president has been controlled by incumbent conservative Sebastián Piñera and center-left Michelle Bachelet, with two terms apiece.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ms. Bachelet is now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, while President Piñera has seen his political stock diminish greatly. At this point, the November election is anyone&#8217;s game.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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