Guatemala City – Retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina and attorney Manuel Baldizon will face each other in a Nov. 6 runoff after none of the candidates won a majority in Guatemala's weekend presidential election.
The latest official report from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with votes from 93.8 percent of the 16,668 precincts counted, gives first place to Perez Molina, candidate of the right-wing Patriot Party, with 36.6 percent of the vote, followed by Baldizon with 23.4 percent.
According to the official count, right-wing academic Eduardo Suger is in third place with 16.2 percent of the vote, while businessman Mario Estrada is fourth with 8.7 percent.
After seeing how the results were trending, Perez Molina and Baldizon separately told reporters that they were satisfied with the votes obtained and immediately told their campaign committees to kick off the next wave of electoral propaganda with a view to the runoff.
"We're the party that Guatemalan voters prefer - there's no doubt that our platform was accepted by the majority," Perez Molina told reporters.
The 60-year-old retired general said that he is "prepared for the runoff," and said that he failed to win an absolute majority in the election because of the 10-candidate field.
"My main strategy will just to be myself. To be visible as human beings so the people can hear us. That will be the strategy," Baldizon, 41, told the media.
The populist attorney thanked voters for their support and said he will meet with leaders of the country's other parties to "seek common ground" to win their support in the second round of voting.
The social democratic UNE party of outgoing President Alvaro Colom was left without a presidential standard-bearer after Guatemala's Constitutional Court struck down the candidacy of former first lady Sandra Torres' bid to succeed erstwhile husband Alvaro Colom as president, barring her from next month's general election.
Article 186 of Guatemala's constitution bars family members of the incumbent president from seeking the highest office, a prohibition that Torres tried to get around by divorcing Colom in April.
The Constitutional Court voted unanimously last month to uphold previous rulings by electoral authorities and the Supreme Court that the divorce was a fraudulent maneuver.