Monday, April 11, 2011

Runoff likely to decide Peruvian presidential race

In the days leading up to Peru’s presidential elections Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa said that selecting Ollanta Humala or Keiko Fujimori would be like “choosing between cancer and AIDS.” after yesterday’s election it appears that Vargas Llosa’s remarks were not only exaggerative but also prophetic.

With approximately 80% of the vote counted, Peruvian electoral officials reported that Humala leads with a plurality of 30.5% of the vote. He will likely miss obtaining a majority to skip the runoff and his second round rival appears to be Fujimori who has gradually widened her slim advantage over third-place Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Both Humala and Fujimori have tried to distance themselves from past baggage that has harmed their respective candidacies. Four years ago, Humala would lose in the runoff to Alan Garcia after he portrayed himself as a firebrand revolutionary a la Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. This time around, however, Humala he has distanced himself from Chavez and tried to portray himself as a moderate leftist similar to ex-Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Fujimori is the daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori and this has served as both an advantage and a hindrance. On the one hand, her candidacy appealed to followers of her father who view him as a savior after Garcia’s disastrous first term in the presidency. Yet the imprisoned former leader is also a reviled figure due to a massive corruption scandal during his presidency and numerous human rights abuses committed by the military. Thus, Keiko has backed away from rumors that she would give her dad a pardon should she win the presidency.

Though Humala and Fujimori reportedly have support among lower-income Peruvians frustrated at the lack of economic equality, each candidate will need to appeal to certain voting blocs that may prove to be key in the runoff. For instance, moderate voters who backed former economy minister Kuczynski or ex-president Alejandro Toledo will likely have a hard time picking between Humala or Fujimori. The youth vote may prove to be decisive such as the over six million voters aged between 18 and 29.

Over 754,000 Peruvian voters reside abroad and according to early results Kuczynski holds a comfortable lead among expats over Humala and Fujimori. In the video below, Peruvian voters living in Spain went to the polls yesterday though a few complained of irregularities in the voting process:

Online Sources- Mercopress, ONPE, Xinhua, NPR, U.S. News and World Report, TeleSUR, LAHT
Video Source – Europa Press via YouTube

1 comment:

K.L.O'Connell said...

Excellent and informative description of Peru's elections! I'm a US student currently studying abroad and Lima and also wrote a post of my own about the elections.

At least according to my friends and family here (which is no means a scientific survey), it looks like a lot of Toledo supporters are going to support Ollanta to prevent Keiko from winning.

PPK supporters, on the other hand tend to be more conservative, and thus they're more afraid of Ollanta. Most, but definitely not all, of the people I've talked with, seem to imply that they'll vote for Keiko.

The good news is that both Ollanta and Keiko will have appeal to a wider voting base to be elected. It's disappointing that the two most polarizing figures made it to the second round, but that tends to be how things work in an extremely pluralist democracy.