What is at stake in the Peruvian elections?

Peru will elect its fourth president in less than a year amid the pandemic .

Yohny lescano

There is currently a huge diversity of parties and candidates to assume the most important position in the South American country. Photo: Congress of the Republic of Peru

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Goméz Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Qué está en juego en las elecciones peruanas?

Could it be that there will finally be political stability in Peru? This is the question that many Peruvians and international experts ask themselves before a new presidential election in the Inca country, after last year President Martín Vizcarra (who came to power after the resignation of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski) was vetoed by Congress and after a brief mandate from Manuel Merino, Francisco Sagasti held power and left a slight feeling of stability while the elections were being held.

There is currently a huge diversity of parties and candidates to assume the most important position in the South American country. There are as many as 20 candidates, and in the face of such a fractional vote, the polls do not give any clear winner and predict an inevitable second round.

According to the survey carried out by the Ipsos company and published by the newspaper El Comercio, the favorite is the center-right candidate Yonhy Lescano with 10% of the voting intention, followed by the progressive Verónika Mendoza and the conservative Hernando de Soto (both with 9% ). In fourth place with 8% the daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, Keiko, and the ex-goalkeeper George Forsyth are tied. 

Most of the candidates have clear options of going to the second round since the differences in percentages are so small and any sudden event before Sunday could sink or elevate candidacies.

Of the 5 most optioned, only Verónika Mendoza and Keiko Fujimori repeat their candidacy, both were defeated by the center-right candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski 4 years ago.

Lezcano, the leader of the polls, recently, during a televised debate, insisted that if he wins the elections, he will ask Chile for the return of the Huáscar Monitor Ship. This is one of several diplomatic tirades between the two countries. This could end up affecting the relationship of the Pacific Alliance, of which both countries, along with Colombia and Mexico, are part.

For her part, Mendoza is one more representative of Latin American progressivism. With an agenda close to socialism and criticized for her affinity or little criticism of the regime in Venezuela, she must escape from that shadow in order to generate support from the more moderate sectors. She also proposes to reactivate Unasur.

She recently clarified that she would propose changes to the Lima Group and that her government will recognize Nicolás Maduro as an interlocutor (as well as the Venezuelan opposition). However, she sees that there is a dictatorship in the Caribbean country.

De Soto, who ties with Mendoza, is a renowned Peruvian economist who has been advising various governments (both national and international) for several decades. His most visible blemish was belonging  to Alberto Fujimori's economic team. However, he resigned before the politician assumed power due to "differences" in policies.

Ideologically, De Soto defines himself "a bit to the right of Biden, but definitely to the left of Trump," as he put it in an interview for CNN. And recently, his proposal to leave the acquisition of vaccines in Peru to the free market caused criticism. In the past, De Soto has been an ally of the Pacific Alliance and has participated in various forums organized by the group of 4 countries.

George Forsyth, who was a favorite last year, seems to have lost support . The former Alianza Lima goalkeeper comes from small political positions and was the surprise in a campaign where new faces stand out. When he was mayor of La Victoria, the former soccer player had several criticisms when he affirmed that 80% of the gangs in his district are foreigners, in a country where xenophobia towards Venezuelans (mainly) grows. His position in international politics is one of the main unknowns of this atypical politician.

The end of Fujimorism?

Another of the important decisions that Peru will experience is how strong or weakened Fujimorismo will remain. This political force embodied in the Popular Force party and whose leader is the daughter of the dictator himself, Keiko Fujimori, will have one of its most important elections.

Also read: 4 facts to understand the electoral process in Ecuador

Although Keiko still appears in the first positions of intention to vote, it does not compare to when 4 years ago she was the candidate to win. This shows a weakening of Fujimori, a political force that accompanied Peru for several years. Four years ago, she won the first round and narrowly lost the presidency to PPK. In 2011 (the party's first elections), it was also the second, losing to Oyanta Humala in the second round.

One of the main causes of this loss of support was the accusations and subsequent imprisonment of its leader Keiko Fujimori for the crime of money laundering after receiving money from Odebrecht in her 2011 campaign.

Furthermore, the internal struggle between the more moderate faction represented by Keiko, and the more extreme one, represented by Alberto Fujimori's other son, Kenji, has strongly weakened the party.

However, and despite the little support it may receive in presidential elections, Fuerza Popular still leads in congressional polls. One might think that Fujimorismo will enter a stage of retrospective and analysis to determine what course to take to see if they survive or die.

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