Guatemala City, June 26 (EFE).- Guatemala’s former first lady Sandra Torres Casanova said on Monday that she was happy to be leading the country’s presidential polls after the counting of around 50 percent of the votes.
“I am very thankful, first to God and then to the people that have always backed and helped us,” Torres, candidate of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) party, said at a hotel in Guatemala City.
Torres was leading with around 14.9 percent of the votes after the scrutiny of around half of the ballot boxes, or approximately 2.5 million ballots.
As the elections are set to go into a runoff, to be held on Aug. 20, Torres – who had also contested the last two elections in 2015 and 2019 and finished second each time – said she was confident of a win no matter who her opponent was.
This response came after the left wing Semilla Party’s candidate Bernardo Arevalo de Leon sprung a big surprise by polling the second largest vote-share so far with 12.19 percent support.
Arevalo de Leon, 64, had been placed a distant 8th in the latest opinion polls before Sunday’s elections, but has firmly established himself in the second place as the count progressed and is set to Torres’ rival in the runoff.
Lawyer Manuel Conde of the conservative Vamos party is placed third with 8.17 percent of the votes.
Pre-election surveys had predicted a tight race for the third place between former diplomat Edmund Mulet and Zury Rios Susa, daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt.
However, Mulet and Rios Susa are now placed fourth and fifth with 6.9 and 6.6 percent of the votes respectively.
Around 9.3 million voters had been registered to vote in 3,482 polling booths managed by the election commission, although the voting percentage has been low as is the norm in the nascent Central American democracy.
Apart from marking their choices for the president and vice president for 2024-2028, people also voted for electing their municipal mayors, national and regional lawmakers, and legislators for the Central American parliament. EFE