APRIL 14 2021
Peru, trapped between the extremes of left and right

The leftist Pedro Castillo will contest the presidency of Peru in the second round with the right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, according to provisional data. Both candidates would barely add 30% of the preferences.

The citizen preferences survey was conducted by the Ipsos company, among voters who left the premises after voting. Castillo surpassed the neoliberals Hernando de Soto and Keiko Fujimori, matched at 11.9 percent, and the populist aspirant Yonhy Lescano, with 11 percent, who will have to wait for the official figures to know who will compete with the candidate of the Peru Libre party. . Behind were the leftist politician Verónika Mendoza (8.8) and the far-right candidate Rafael López (2.5). Castillo, who usually attends his rallies mounted on a horse, achieved first place thanks to what one analyst called a surprising gallop in the final stretch, because a week ago no one saw him with the possibility of contesting the second round.

His rise was favored because the 'right-wing guns' (attacks) on Internet networks, the press and open confrontations were concentrated on Verónika Mendoza, who until Castillo's rise was the one with the greatest possibilities on the (progressive) left side of the political spectrum. After knowing the result of the poll, amid the jubilation of his followers, the Peru Libre candidate called for calm and said that he will pronounce himself when the electoral authorities give the official information, which will be in the next few days, when the computation of the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE). "The people are wise, they identify with people who are born from the same town," said the rural teacher ally of the Peru Libre party, noting that the result of being confirmed is a sign of popular sentiment. Castillo thanked the support of his fellow teachers, whose radical faction of the teachers' union gained notoriety in 2017 when he led a strike by provincial teachers against the government of then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

Asked about the calm with which he received the result of the exit poll, he commented that he would have reacted with the same serenity if the poll ranked him sixth. Castillo was linked in previous years to two parties outside the left, Peru Posible, of the then centrist Alejandro Toledo, and Alianza para el Progreso, of the conservative businessman César Acuña.

The real problem is the lack of representativeness of the candidates. They have not been able to understand what is the claim of the population. The population asks for education, security, health, justice. Especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, where it has become clear that the State is absolutely incapable of meeting the needs of the population. For the population, this is not an ideological debate, it is a practical debate ”, states in an interview with DW political analyst Alonso Gurmendi, from the Universidad del Pacífico, in Lima. For her part, the political scientist at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Denisse Rodriguez-Olivari, indicates that, despite the fact that some positions have fallen or risen, "there are no clear preferences among the electorate." In addition, he predicts that "absenteeism in the elections will be quite high, because the sanitary conditions do not really allow it."

Between the plague and cholera " But Castillo's controversial intentions do not automatically mean a point in favor for the right-wing populist Fujimori, who is almost assured of her second round pass. According to the latest polls, the Popular Force party candidate was the one who had the highest percentage of rejection: around 60% of respondents would never vote for her. A heavy backpack due to his political errors in the last five years and the investigations against him for corruption. Just a month ago, the Peruvian Prosecutor's Office requested 30 years in prison for her for money laundering. In the opinion of political scientist Bettina Schorr, from the Berlin Institute for Latin American Studies (LAI), the result of the elections is "really a disaster" for Peru: "This is now like having to choose between the plague and cholera. It seems almost incredible to me that Keiko Fujimori goes to the second round, after the accusations of corruption against him and after hindering the work of Congress and the Government with his party in recent years ”. In the case of Castillo, Schorr is alarmed, especially, by his social and economic conservatism, but which is ultimately the same as that of the other candidates on the right. "In any case, I see it difficult for them to bring better times to Peru," laments the German political scientist.

The most dispersed Congress in history Meanwhile, what will be defined in this first round is the composition of the new Congress, with at least 11 seats. Of the 130 seats, the Peru Libre party would obtain 32, Popular Force 22 and Popular Action 21. The rest would be distributed among eight parties. "That is quite a record and not a really positive one. This is possibly the most dispersed Congress in our history. That is again another indicator that expresses the division of the results," notes the Peruvian political scientist. According to Lanegra, if a certain order is wanted in the management of both Parliament and the Parliament-Government relationship, this reality forces to make coalitions and formal parliamentary agreements, in which the benches decide to work together on certain agenda items: "Due to Since the benches are small minorities, the Government needs a minimum parliamentary coalition that guarantees a certain capacity for action, for example, to have a majority that prevents the president from being removed. That is the only way out, because otherwise we will have a repetition than we have now ”.

On the other hand, these electoral results in Peru would only confirm the polarizing trend that the region is experiencing: "It is quite consistent with what is happening in Latin America, where we have these two opposite poles in different countries. We also saw it with the Sunday elections in Ecuador or recently in Bolivia and Brazil. All of this allows us to make the polarization visible and also the lack of alternatives for many people in the region who do not feel heard, "summarizes political scientist Schorr.

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