Without political experience, popular comedian Jimmy Morales wins presidential election in Quatemala


A former TV comedian with no experience in government has won the run-off vote in Guatemala’s presidential election.

Jimmy Morales got more than double the votes of ex-first lady Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country’s unpopular political elite.

Mr Morales campaigned on a promise to fight graft following the resignation and arrest on corruption charges of President Otto Perez Molina last month.

Ms Torres admitted defeat once the margin of Mr Morales’ win was clear.

Mr Morales received 67.4% of the vote and Ms Torres 32.6%.

‘Common man’

Mr Morales, 46, described his victory as a “brave vote, a vote full of hope, a vote which wants to put an end to corruption”.

The presidential candidate for the National Front of Convergence (FCN) party, Jimmy Morales, drives on a motorbike during the closing rally of his campaign, in Guatemala City on 22 October, 2015
Jimmy Morales describes himself as a “common man”





He also described himself as “a common man”, adding: “I don’t have super powers nor magic and I’ve never said I do, but my heart swells with love for this nation and together we’re going to fight for her.”

Mr Morales is a well-known comedian, who for 14 years starred in a popular TV comedy alongside his brother, Sammy Morales.

In the sketches, which are often lewd and coarse, he played everything from a hapless soldier to a country bumpkin.

For one character, he donned blackface and wore a prosthetic behind, triggering accusations of racism.

Women’s and gay rights groups have also accused him of sexism and homophobia.

As his campaign manifesto was only six pages long, little is known about Mr Morales’ policies, apart from favouring low taxes and limited government.

He has been criticised for some of his more far-fetched policies which include the tagging of teachers with a GPS device to ensure they attend classes and giving each Guatemalan child a smartphone.

Fresh start

Many voters said they were drawn to Mr Morales because he represented a fresh start and promised to fight against graft.





Otto Perez Molina attends a third hearing on corruption allegations that led him to resign in Guatemala City on 8 September, 2015.
Otto Perez Molina stepped down last month amid corruption allegations

The campaign was conducted against the backdrop of a widening corruption scandal which led to the resignations of the vice-president and the president.

Both deny involvement in a scheme which saw business people pay bribes to evade customs charges.

Ms Torres, who ran government social programmes when her ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president between 2008 and 2012, failed to inspire the confidence of voters, who saw her as too closely linked to Guatemala’s old political elite.

“We were tired of the same faces of people who get rich off our money,” a supporter of Mr Morales told Reuters news agency.

Sandra Torres smiles as she pose for photos with a child after casting her vote in Guatemala City on 25 October, 2015.
Sandra Torres was in charge of the government’s social programmes when her then-husband was president

Mr Morales now faces a difficult task as his National Convergence Front (FCN) will have just 11 out of 158 seats in the next Congress.






The two candidates

A ballot marked for Jimmy Morales is counted by electoral workers at a polling station during the presidential runoff election in Guatemala City on 25 October, 2015
Jimmy Morales got more than double the votes cast for Ms Torres

Jimmy Morales:

  • An evangelical Protestant who is against abortion, same-sex marriage and legalised drugs
  • Argues that his lack of experience is a virtue because he can make a completely fresh start when he comes into government
  • His National Convergence Front party has deep ties to the military, which played a brutal role in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war
  • Grew up in a poor family and has a degree in business administration
  • Appeared in a comedy sketch show with his brother Sammy for 14 years

Sandra Torres:

  • A Roman Catholic, she oversaw Guatemala’s social programmes when in government and has a reputation for being a shrewd political operator
  • Was disqualified from being a candidate in the 2011 presidential election
  • Divorced President Alvaro Colom in 2011, when his term was coming to an end
  • Said her priority in government would be to form a team of intelligence officers to fight corruption
  • With a degree in communication studies, she is renowned for her strong personality and is popular in poor rural areas

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