Comedian wins first round of Guatemalan presidential election

Jimmy Torres, the comedian who will lead Guatemala?
(Image credit: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

Guatemalans went to the polls on Sunday to pick a new president, days after the previous president resigned amid an investigation into fraud and corruption. The winner, results released Monday indicate, is Jimmy Morales, a comic actor who once played a cowboy who accidentally ended up president. The case of life imitating art isn't a done deal, though. Morales, 42, won just 24 percent of the vote, with 98 percent of results tallied, meaning there will be a runoff election on Oct. 25.

Morales' first place showing was unexpected. It's not clear if he will face conservative businessman Manuel Baldizón or Sandra Torres, a left-leaning former first lady, in the second round. Both of them earned just over 19 percent of the vote, and Torres is ahead by about 5,000 votes, but analysts expect a partial recount. Baldizón had long been expected to succeed disgraced former President Otto Perez Molina, and was leading in the polls until recently; his right-wing party supported Perez Molina up until days before he resigned last week. Morales, on the other hand, ran on the platform "Neither corrupt or a thief," and his lack of political experience is seen as a political plus in this anti-establishment moment. "The electorate has been searching for a political virgin, and that virgin is Jimmy Morales," economist and journalist Enrique "Quique" Godoy, tells The Wall Street Journal.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.