Television comedian triumphs over social democrat

Jimmy Morales becomes new president of Guatemala

In yesterday’s runoff election for the new president of Guatemala, TV comedian Jimmy Morales, who ran for the conservative Frente de Convergencia Nacional (FCN), clearly beat ex-president’s wife Sandra Torres of the social democratic Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE): Morales won 68.29 percent of the vote, while Torres (who has since conceded defeat) received only 31.71 votes.

The 46-year-old president-elect, made famous by the hit series Moralejas, doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotypes people in Germany have of TV comedians: He studied theology, is an evangelical Christian, a staunch opponent of abortion and a supporter of the death penalty. Furthermore, he does not believe that the mass murder of Ixil-Maya during the civil war between 1960 and 1996 was genocide and does not want to give up the Guatemalan claim to Belize, which was conquered by Great Britain in 1798 and became independent in 1981.


At the beginning of the campaign, Morales was considered a similar aubenseiter as Donald Trump in the Republicans or Jeremy Corbyn in the British Labour Party. Then he raumt with the slogan "Ni corrupto, ni ladron" ("Neither corrupt nor a thief") surprisingly won the most votes in the first round of voting and qualified for the run-off.

His slogan and Morales’ origins outside mainstream politics probably went over well, not least because the old president, Otto Perez Molina of the liberal-conservative Partido Patriota (PP), was toppled over a corruption and fraud affair. He is now in custody, as is his deputy, Roxana Baldetti. Corruption is also considered one of the causes of the massive increase in the national debt, which, along with gang crime, was one of the more important ies of the election campaign.

After his victory, Morales spoke of "Election for the end of corruption" and that Guatemala has shown that, "that the problems can be solved without guns and without bullets, but with laws and agreements that are fulfilled". The UNE said that it respected the people’s decision and that it would now "Constructive opposition work" perform.

Guatemala has a population of almost 16 million people – a good 40 percent of them are Mayan Indians. The main export products have been coffee, bananas and sugar for decades (or centuries). Despite its agricultural pragmatism, Guatemala is the largest economy among the 20 Central American countries. After the end of the Burger War almost 20 years ago, economic growth and gross national income picked up markedly. Another reason for this was remittances from Guatemalans, who emigrated en masse to the United States and transferred money from there to their homeland.

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