Jorge Serrano seems assured of victory in Sunday's presidential runoff, as several parties that lost in the first round throw their support behind the conservative, born-again Christian.
Polls have indicated that Serrano, of the Solidarity Action Movement, could defeat publisher Jorge Carpio Nicolle of the National Center Union in a landslide.Guatemala has a long history of military rule. The inauguration of the winner on Jan. 14 will mark the first time in the country's history that one elected civilian has handed power to another elected civilian.
President Vinicio Cerezo is constitutionally barred from succeeding hinmself.
The new president will have a difficult job. Guatemala has a 75 percent inflation rate, street crime is rampant, the government is broke and the incumbent Christian Democrats have been discredited by corruption and ineptness.
Relations with the United States are at their lowest level in years.
The United States has put Guatemala - which produces opium and is a transit point for cocaine smugglers - on its list of "drug problem" countries in September and cut off military aid last month over human rights violations.
Serrano became a serious contender when the early front-runner, former dictator and evangelical preacher Efrain Rios Montt, was declared ineligible in October.
Polls indicate Serrano will get about 66 percent of the vote. They say Carpio will probably get close to 25 percent.