Former TV Comedian, Jimmy Morales Elected President of Guatemala

Former TV Comedian, Jimmy Morales Elected President of Guatemala

A former TV comedian with no experience in governance has  been elected as President  in Guatemala's presidential election.

Jimmy Morales pulled 72% against the former first lady, Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country's unpopular political elite in the run-off elections.

Ms Torres admitted defeat before all the votes were counted, as the margin of Mr Morales' lead became clear.

The elections took place a month, after the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina who has been accused of leading a corrupt network of politicians and customs officials.

The former president denies his involvement in a scheme which saw businessmen pay bribes to evade customs charges. One investigation found that former President Perez and his vice president were at the centre of the customs scam but both  have denied any involvement.

Mr Perez was impeached, deprived of his presidential immunity and arrested in September. He is now in jail awaiting trial.

Many voters see the comedian as a fresh start following nationwide protests that ousted Mr Perez Molina. The run-off witnessed low turnout, despite calls for voters to help Guatemala overcome a serious political crisis.

Mr Morales has regaled voters with stories about his humble origins and jokes from a 14-year period on a TV comedy show.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 an iPhone.

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His manifesto is only six pages - giving few indications as to how he might run the country - but he is known to favour low taxes and limited government. One of Mr Morales' most famous comedy roles was that of a useless cowboy who becomes president by accident.

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

Critics accuse Mr Morales of having no programme and no team, just the ability to exploit voter grievances and his  rise in the polls has been attributed to his targeting of public sector corruption which has engulfed the government. Ms Torres on the other hand ran government social programmes when her ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president between 2008 and 2012.

 

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