Today is election day which means only one thing to me: NO MORE PEOPLE CAMPAIGNING!
What is most fascinating to me is how little the leaders focus on platform. They just want to make a lot of noise and get their face on everything that a paper can stick to.
Here is an example of the triteness of this entire process. I was handed a letter with 2 posters attached from the Patriotic Party whose slogan is "The Hard Hand." The letter, signed by all of the people running for municipal offices, contained three points:
- First, thanks for supporting our party.
- Second, sorry if our campaign has been an annoyance.
- Third, vote for us on September 9.
- 1. Social and Cultural Development
- 2. Productive Economic Development
- 3. Urban Development and Environment
- 4. Steps and Administration in Local Development with Honesty and Transparency
These are some of the parties:
- Guatemalan Encounter (EG) headed by Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú. People don't like her because she talks the talk but has only profited from her notoriety by opening a pharmacy chain. She wants to boost indigenous culture.
- Union of National Hope (UNE) Colom is their presidential candidate and is at the head of the polls. He's a Mayan priest so he's not going to get the evangelical Christian vote. Amber thinks he looks like Mr. Burns.
- Great National Alliance (GANA) is the incumbent party (current president Berger who is not running again). It was a coalition of three parties.
- Patriotic Party (PP) the one I described above. They are keen on increasing the number of police and army presence.
- Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) whose party chief is Evangelical Christian and former general and president of Guatemala, Rios Montt. He was president in the early 1980's, the height of the killing during the civil war.
- Union for National Change (UCN) the leader of this party is accused of embezzlement for his former roles in local government. His slogans are "Presidente Inteligente" and "Better Times."
- The Front (F) "for the poor, for the united people of Guatemala." It's main focus is democracy.
- Unionist Party (el Sol) This is the party of the sun. The leader looks just like Dr. Phil.
- National Advancement Party (PAN) would lead the country away from the verge of collapse because of the wide gap between rich and poor. The local candidate is one of the richest men in Tactic (owner of a bakery, Pan means bread incidentally).
- Guatemalan-Corn National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) is the political arm of the Guerrilla side of the civil war and signed the peace with the army in 1996. They are mainly socialist.
- New National Alliance (ANN) another party promising major reforms.
- Democratic Union (UD) this one has an advert you can watch on youtube.
- Authentic Integral Development (DIA) this is apparently a leftist party, but it wants to firm up the death penalty, reduce taxes and strengthen the army.
- Vision of Values (VIVA) was founded by the same man who founded one of the largest evangelical churches in the country less than two decades ago, the El Shaddai Church. They registered too late so he wasn't on the presidential slate.
- Centro de Acción Social (CASA) the leader is a university professor (math and physics) who believes that with God's help, patriotism, and a focus on the poor, security and employment the country will improve.
Soon they will start whitewashing all of the stones on the sides of the highway and taking down all the banners and signs baring the various political symbols. And they'll stop going around in vans blaring music and political slogans. They'll stop blocking roads with their party parades. They'll stop dropping leaflets from airplanes. They'll stop flying helicopters overhead carrying candidates around the country. Everything will be back to normal. Well, normal for Guatemala.
The voting took place today, a Sunday, because employers wouldn't give their employees time off to vote.
This page has links to all the platforms and stuff. Colom won the first round. There will be a runoff between the top two presidential candidates.