TO AVOID the dynasties that have misruled many Latin American countries, Guatemala's constitution forbids relatives of the incumbent president and vice-president from running for high office. This clause had seemed to scotch the chances of Sandra Torres, the country's ambitious first lady, becoming its first presidenta. But on March 21st she and her husband, álvaro Colom, announced a novel way to sidestep the rules: they filed for divorce.

为了避免治理很多拉美国家不当的王朝出现,瓜地马拉宪法禁止现任总统和副总统的亲戚角逐高阶公职。这项条款似乎剥夺了瓜国第一夫人Sandra Torres施展抱负的机会,她想成为第一位女总统(presidenta)。但是,三月廿一日她和丈夫álvaro Colom宣布了回避这些法规的新方法︰诉请离婚。

Rather than being a sign of marital discord, the parting looks much more likely to have sprung from political unity. Speaking last month, Mr Colom gushed over his wife's leadership skills and the "impressive passion" she inspired. On March 8th Ms Torres declared that she would run as the candidate of National Unity of Hope (UNE), her husband's party. Candidates can register from May 2nd, and the election will be held in September.

两人离婚并不代表婚姻上的不和,反而看起来更可能是源自政治上的结盟。álvaro Colom上个月发表演讲,大力称赞妻子的领导技巧,她也受到这股“感人热情”的鼓舞。三月八日,Sandra Torres宣布她将以丈夫领导的全国希望联盟(UNE)的候选人身分出马竞选。候选人登记从五月二日开始,总统大选将在九月举行。

Ms Torres's eligibility is still in doubt. The constitution excludes the president's blood relatives up to his cousins, and his in-laws up to grandparents and grandchildren. But there is no mention of exes, leaving the question up to the Constitutional Court. Its five members were chosen this month and will be seated in April.

Sandra Torres的候选人资格仍有疑问。宪法排除了总统的血亲关系直到堂表兄弟,以及姻亲关系直到外祖父母和外孙子女。但没有提到前妻前夫,将问题留给宪法法院。宪法法院五名大法官本月份才雀屏中选,四月才走马上任。

Ms Torres is not the only candidate running on dubious constitutional grounds. álvaro Arzú, a former president, is campaigning despite a ban on re-election. Zury Ríos, a congresswoman, may be blocked by a prohibition on the relatives of the organisers of coups, since her father, Efraín Ríos Montt, toppled a government in 1982 and installed himself as dictator. Eduardo Suger, another possible candidate, was born in Switzerland and may not meet the requirement to be "Guatemalan in origin". "Ministers of religion" are forbidden from running too, which might spell problems for Harold Caballeros, the founder of a large evangelical church.

Sandra Torres不是唯一在宪法观点上暧昧不清的参选候选人。前总统álvaro Arzú无视于关于连任的禁令也准备参选。国会女议员Zury Ríos可能因政变策划者亲戚的禁令而遭阻挡,因为她的父亲Efraín Ríos Montt在1982年推翻政府而自己上台成为独裁者。另一位可能的候选人Eduardo Suger出生在瑞士,可能不符合“在瓜地马拉出生”的要求条件。“教会牧师”也遭禁止参选,这可能带给福音教派创始人Harold Caballeros很大的问题。

One of the few candidates free of constitutional entanglements is Otto Pérez Molina, a former general who narrowly lost a run-off vote to Mr Colom in 2007. Mr Pérez Molina is the strong favourite: a recent poll put his support at 43%, with Ms Torres next on only 11%. In 2007 he promised an "iron fist" against crime. Since then Guatemala has become far more dangerous, as Mexican cocaine smugglers have put down roots in the wild jungle areas near the northern border. After four years of the soft-spoken Mr Colom, some Guatemalans might fancy an ex-army man to drive the gunmen back across the frontier.

少数免于宪法纠缠的候选人之一Otto Pérez Molina,过去是一位将军,在2007年总统大选第二轮投票以极小差距输给álvaro Colom。Otto Pérez Molina的声势被外界强烈看好︰最近一次民调的支持率高达四成三,而Sandra Torres只有一成一。2007年,他承诺以“铁拳”对抗犯罪。因为当时瓜地马拉变得更加危险,当墨西哥古柯碱走私者在北部边境附近的野生丛林区内种植毒品。经过álvaro Colom四年的斯文有礼后,有些瓜地马拉百姓可能希望这位前陆军将领可以将持枪歹徒赶出国境。

Ms Torres, on the other hand, has strong support in the countryside, where the social programmes she directs have had the biggest impact. Mi Familia Progresa (My Family Progresses), a conditional-cash-transfer scheme, has improved the lot of poor indigenous women, who may fear the consequences of Mr Pérez Molina's hard line on crime. The concentration of Ms Torres's backers in rural areas means that pollsters, who do not always venture into Mayan mountain villages, probably underestimate her strength.

另一方面,Sandra Torres在农村有强大支持力量,她主持的社会计画在农村产生最大的影响力。有条件发放现金的专案“我的家庭发展”(Mi Familia Progresa),改善了原住民穷人妇女的命运,穷人妇女可能惧怕Otto Pérez Molina采取强硬路线打击犯罪的结果。Sandra Torres的支持者集中在农村地区,民调业者通常不会冒险进入马雅文化山区的村落,或许低估了她的力量。

It is too soon to make reliable forecasts about the election. The field is likely to be crowded—14 candidates, mostly from fairly new parties, stood in 2007—and the dynamics of a run-off depend on who squeaks through the first round. At the moment, many candidates are content to focus on getting on the ballot.

关于总统大选结果的可靠预测,现在可能为时尚早。选票上的候选人可能挤爆—2007年有十四位候选人,很多都来自新成立的政党—而第二轮投票的动态取决于哪一位在第一轮通过考验。届时,很多候选人一定各显神通要让自己的名字出现在第二轮选票上。