Peru: An Initial Analysis of the Results of the Presidential Election

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By: Bárbara Ester and María Florencia Pagliarone / Source: / The Dawn News / April 12, 2016

On April 11, the general elections in Peru were held. The people voted for a Presidential formula, 30 congressmen for the 2016-2021 period, and 5 representatives for the Andean Parliament.

The latest poll by Ipsos on the 2016 elections reported that Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, of the Peruvians for Change party, leads the voter intention for the second round, with 43%, while Keiko Fujimori reaches 39%.

Regarding these results, the director of the consultancy firm Vox Populi, Luis Benavente, said that these results show a scenario of close victory, and that the candidates will contend every vote until Sunday, June 5, when Peruvians return to the polls to choose the definitive winner.

“In the last four days, four different polls tell us that there is a technical tie. A third of the votes (approximately seven million) could tip the scale towards one side or the other”, added Benavente.

He also pointed out that Fujimori’s strategy  is to promise to return to the ‘24 by 24’ system [a work regime for the police forces that mandates that they work one day and take the next day off], to attract the vote of police officers and their families and close circle. This could represent a total of half a million voters.

On Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, he said that his plan is to remark that having both the Executive and the Legislative power under control of Fujimorism, analog to what happened in the 90s with Alberto Fujimori, would be “extremely dangerous”. Finally, he added that the Presidential debate, that will be held on March 29, could be decisive.

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Some things to take into consideration:

The foreseeable continuity of the economic model. Up to now, the elections reveal that there hasn’t been a change in the direction of the economic model. Both Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Kuczynski are representatives of the neoliberal model. The very own Kenji Fujimori, Keiko’s brother, said that if the runoff election were to be between his sister and left-wing candidate Verónika Mendoza, what would be at stake would be a choice between two models. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of similarities between Kuczynski and Fujimori, and not only for their relation with the Panama Papers. Although Kuczynski is perceived as better prepared for the position (a perception that is very questionable given his unclean record as a lobbyist), the debate in the second round won’t revolve around economics but around whether voters are in favor or against Keiko Fujimori.


Role of religion: When Kuczynski ran in 2011, he did so as part of an alliance that was made up of parties with incompatible ideologies: the Christian People’s Party, National Restoration, led by a Christian pastor, the Humanist Party and Alliance for Progress, led by a businessman. For the current elections, he created a new party of his own and received public support by Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. Peru’s Constitution establishes it is a secular state, however, 74% of its population defines itself as Catholic. In this context, the clergy has expressed a biased opinion. The Cardinal of Lima and the Archbishop of Arequipa have openly said they are against candidates who support abortion or same-sex marriage, in reference to candidates Alfredo Barnechea and Verónika Mendoza, who have publicly supported the decriminalization of abortion in case of rape and of same-sex civil unions. Likewise, Keiko Fujimori has declared that she only supports abortion if the mother’s life is at risk.

Symbolic continuity of Fujimorism: Alberto Fujimori was a breaking point in the political history of Peru. His greatest legacy is the destruction of the partisan system and democratic institutions through actions that include a coup against himself and the resignation to his seat via fax from Japan. Fujimorism is a central topic for Peruvians, a line that divides opinions: while many consider it a dark chapter in their history, that mustn’t be repeated, others consider it a form of “effective right-wing populism”, as Martín Tanaka defined it. Fujimori handed out presents to the poor while he murdered entire political organizations in a “pacifying” crusade. On this, Keiko Fujimori says she knows which chapters of history must be repeated and which ones mustn’t. This is contradicted by the six denounces for illegal handouts with audiovisual evidence. And she has also marked an enemy for the country, as her father did: terrorism. She speaks of reconciliation and of setting aside differences, but her success lies in pointing to insecurity as the biggest problem, which leads to people allowing excesses as long as the government deals with that ghost. According to GFK consultancy, 77% of the population believes it’s necessary to rule with an iron fist.

Pardon for Alberto Fujimori: Keiko has promised to pardon her father if she reaches the presidency. If she didn’t fulfill it, it would mean a betrayal to her allies, but if she did it, it would have a high cost.

A raising left-wing: The surprise in the election was left-wing candidate Verónika Mendoza, 35, who represented a generational change and was supported mainly by working-class sectors. She came out third by a small margin. In postmodern and globalized elections, an austere campaign is not enough, especially when the corporate media actively campaigns against you. But she has become the leader of a left that had been divided for years, and everything seems to indicate that she has a great future ahead.


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