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OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Guatemala Expresses Concern over Possible Suspension of Movimiento Semilla Party

  August 31, 2023

The Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guatemala expresses its concern over the possible suspension of the Movimiento Semilla party and about yesterday's events in the Congress of the Republic.

This follows the decision of the Directorate of the Citizens' Registry of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to provisionally suspend the Movimiento Semilla Party, in compliance with the instruction -at the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office- of the criminal judge of July 2023. In response, the OAS Mission expresses its concern over these new attempts to ignore the will expressed at the polls by Guatemalans. Derived from the foregoing, the Mission views with concern yesterday’s events in the Congress of the Republic, in which the executive committee withdrew recognition of the Movimiento Semilla party as a legislative bloc and declared its current deputies as independent. For the OAS Mission, the refusal to allow the Movimiento Semilla party to express itself in plenary violates the minimum norms of democratic coexistence and parliamentary law.

Regarding the suspension of parties, different legislations incorporate the collection of a certain number or percentage of signatures into the legal requirements for the constitution of a political party. The objective of these provisions is to establish that the party has a minimum of citizen support, that as a political platform it has some degree of electoral viability. This seeks to avoid political atomization and the proliferation of political parties that lack support among citizens. Once political parties have competed in elections, this requirement is often replaced by a minimum number of votes to maintain registration. In the case of Guatemala, the threshold to maintain the registry is 5% of the valid votes cast. Suspending a political party based on the signature requirement is inappropriate after the election, when that same party has already received support at the polls that far and convincingly exceeds the legal minimum established for its formation and registration. Voting is a much more important element than signatures in determining popular support. In this way, the legal interest sought by the norm is fully protected in the case of the Movimiento Semilla party.

Finally, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission calls on the TSE to apply the pro homine and pro personae criteria, respecting the rights of political participation and, as it has done previously, to respect its precedents when resolving cases. The OAS Mission rejects the threats that the Tribunal has received and any attempt to affect its independence through external pressure that attempts to criminalize its decisions.

Reference: E-049/23