Jimmy Morales, Guatemala’s Next President, Self-Styled ‘Christian Nationalist’

jimmy morales guatemala president
Victory, peace or “entre comillas?” Jimmy Morales gestures to supporters in Guatemala after winning the presidential elections in Guatemala by a landslide. Voters hope that Morales will restore public trust and stamp out corruption following the ouster of Otto Perez Molina and much of his government in a massive graft scandal. Guatemala City, October 26, 2015. Morales, a REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

Jimmy Morales won Guatemala’s election by a landslide on Sunday, defeating former First Lady Sandra Torres by nearly 40 percentage points (with 70 percent of precincts reporting .) Morales, a former comedy actor, benefited from his outsider status in the heat of Guatemala’s ongoing corruption scandal. Dubbed the “ Guatemalan Trump ” by some, Morales reflected the Republican Mogul’s path by gained national attention as a prime-time entertainer, not serious a weathered political wizard. But where Trump resists the label of “nationalist” or “nativist” rhetoric, Morales actually assigned such labels to himself.

Morales an outspoken Evangelical Christian in a country where Catholicism has been backsliding for decades. That may have bolstered his outsider image even further; the former Catholic President, Otto Perez Molina, is behind bars on corruption charges.

On the campaign trail, Morales described himself in interviews as a “Christian Nationalist,” though he downplayed the associations that term has with Hitler’s Third Reich, and arguing that religion and patriotism are the only things that bind Guatemala’s geographically and ethnically diverse population.

Opponents pointed to that label along with the conservative former military commanders that fuel his political base. Those former soldiers participated on the government side of a brutal civil war that led to widespread human rights abuses, and mass killings that Morales has said cannot be considered genocide.

Mandate To Rule?

“With this vote you made me president,” Morales said in a televised victory announcement on Sunday. “I have received a mandate, and the mandate of the people of Guatemala is to fight against the corruption that has consumed us.”

How strong is that mandate, and does it extend past political reform? Voter apathy was at a 15-year high on Sunday as nearly 50 percent of the electorate stayed home, likely due to a combination of intense rains, dissatisfaction with the political process and a sense that Torres didn’t stand a chance.

So, did Guatemalan voter choose him for his policies, or just because they didn't like his foes?

Morales will be sworn into office in January. Aside from restoring public confidence by fighting corruption, here are a few policies he has promised to pursue/protect according to the BBC.

  • Track teachers with GPS devices to make sure they are in class on time.

  • Give each Guatemalan child a cellphone

  • Lower taxes, reduce regulation

  • Keep abortion illegal

  • Prevent drugs from being decriminalized

  • Preserve a ban on gay marriage

Do you think that Morales can reverse the tide of corruption in his country? What about his other policies -- should he put them into action?

What do you think?