Elections in Perú

Peruvians went to the polls on Sunday to choose a successor to outgoing Alan García, whose neo-liberal policies generated uneven growth during this his second term in office deepening the social chasm. So unpopular was García that his APRA party, Perú's oldest and most established political party, did not even field a candidate. Instead Peruvians chose amongst a crowded field of 11 with five main candidates vying for the post.

Preliminary results from the Office of National Electoral Processes (ONPE) with 72 percent of the votes counted gave the leftist nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala 29.3 percent, followed by the right-wing Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the jailed former President, with 22.9 percent and the neoliberal former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with 21.1 percent. Former President Alejandro Toledo finished fourth with 15.2 percent. Former Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda finished fifth with 10.9 percent continuing a trend since 1912 in which no former mayor of Lima has won the presidency. It will likely be days before a final tally is known as votes trickle in from remote regions in this Andean nation.

With no candidate winning a 50 percent plus 1 share of the vote, the top two vote getters will head to a run-off on June 5th. Exit polling seems to suggest that Keiko Fujimori is likely the better positioned to take second place and face Ollanta Humala. Fujimori did especially well in the north, formerly an APRA stronghold while Humala carried the south. The race sets up a very divergent ideological contest.

Exit polls in Perú's elections also show political parties led by Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori winning the most seats in Perú's Congress. Of the 130 seats to be filled for the new Congress that opens on July 28, Gana Perú, the party led by Ollanta Humala, will get 39 seats, according to exit polls by CPI. Fuerza 2011, led by Keiko Fujimori, will get 31 seats. Perú Posible, Alejandro Toledo's party, seems set for 23 seats while the Alianza por el Gran Cambio, the party of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, looks to gain 16 seats. APRA is headed for its worst showing ever since it was allowed to contest elections in the 1980s (the party was banned for most of its existence) with only six seats. Another party Solidaridad Nacional, the party of former Lima mayor Luis Castañeda, won 15 seats.

A few words on Ollanta Humala since the American media is likely to paint him as another Hugo Chávez. This is his second run for the presidency having finished as the runner up to Alan García in 2006. Humala, 48, is a former military officer who like Chávez led an abortive military uprising in the waning days of the Fujimori regime. But Humala, especially in the five years since his 6 point loss to García, has spent time allying himself to the more pragmatic Latin American left. Indeed, in this campaign his primary advisors was the Brazilian team that help elect Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva.

Humala is promising a "grand transformation" in Perú and no doubt will seek to undo the neo-liberal policies that Fujimori and García governments have set in place. Humala wants to increase taxes on mining companies, stop natural-gas exports, increase state control over certain sectors of the economy and better protect indigenous communities from logging and oil extraction industries. 

Tags: Perú Politics, Ollanta Humala, Neo-liberalism (all tags)

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