In the 2015 electoral process in Guatemala,+ the Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES) with its more than 35-year experience, sought to contribute to the quality of the debate among the 14 presidential candidates. Through the production of academic pieces and by promoting an environment of serenity and seriousness, ASIES encouraged the candidates to deepen in their proposals related to social, security, public finance, environment, and international relations, among other issues.
In order to fulfill its objectives, ASIES’s strategy included research production, the organizations of events and debates, the relationship with media, and the support to other initiatives.
12 policy proposals were produced under the umbrella of Guatemala Camina. The proposals were based on ASIES’ research on different issues and intended to establish a starting point to work on the transformation of the country. The proposals were presented under different formats depending on the target audience: policy briefs for political stakeholders and social organizations; tools for citizen reflection and informational videos for citizenship; and the publication of 11 of the 12 research pieces for academics.
ASIES organized different events to promote their policy proposals, as well as participated in events organized by other institutions.
3 of the 12 policy proposals were presented In the public forum “Guatemala Camina: Pasos firmes para cambiar”. Considering the political situation in the country, the prioritized proposals were: Bringing political parties with citizens; Best judges, less impunity; and In search of decent work.
In order to have a larger spread throughout the country, this forum was presented in the departments of Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Chiquimula and Cobán.
Furthermore, the proposals were presented to the media in order to explain their implementation and reach other audiences.
With the ongoing electoral process, the group Albavisión approached ASIES to perform as a guarantee of the fairness of a series of Forum-debate with presidential candidates, in which the organization also worked in the elaboration and formulation of the questions to the candidates. These forums were broadcasted for three consecutive Sundays in open television channels and channels that broadcast in the United States, Central America and parts of Canada.
For the second electoral round, given the success and credibility gained with previous forums, the group Alba Vision requested once more ASIES’ support for the formulation of questions to the Presidential Debate 2015. This time the debate also involved the participation of the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. The coverage of the event was much larger than previous ones, because it was extended to some Latin American countries that requested the broadcasting, like Argentina.
During the first electoral round, ASIES, as member of the National Big Campaign for Education, also provided support to the TV channel Guatevisión and the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala for the organization of the Forum “Education is Development” with 9 of the 14 presidential candidates, who exposed their government program for the area of education.
Moreover, ASIES provided technical support in the Forums “Your Election”, organized by the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry. The organization was asked to elaborate the questions to candidates for deputies and mayors. The forums were broadcasted by several Guatemalan channels.
A month before the general elections, Guatemala suffered a political crisis that led to a series of peaceful marches of citizens with a variety of demands and slogans. One of the most recurrent claims was the non-registration of candidates who were objected for various reasons. ASIES decided to support Guatemala Forum’s (a space composed by several institutions and organisations representing different sectors of society) proposal requesting the application of Article 113 of the Constitution which states that candidates should have the qualities of ability, competence and honesty. This support was given through a public forum and several opinion pieces published in digital media and press.
As part of the Guatemala Forum, a statement which stating that “democratic governance requires attention to citizen demands expressed in different areas” was presented to several media. With this statement the Forum sought to call the government to consider the citizen marches that took place during the political crisis.
A cooperation agreement was signed with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, with the aim of promoting the analysis of information related to accountability and greater efficiency in the audit processes performed by the electoral body.
In addition, and together with a consortium formed by the University of San Carlos and Rafael Landivar University, a letter of understanding with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in order to strengthen the electoral authority was signed. As part of the activities conducted by the Consortium, trainings to representatives of the Citizen Registry of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal were delivered.
In order to provide inputs to the discussion on the demands of citizens expressed during the citizen marches, a series of online op-eds was developed.