The Peruvian electoral scenario is so uncertain that on the eve of the presidential election, scheduled for Sunday (11), it is not possible to say who are the favorites for a possible second round. Of the 18 candidates running, none have more than 10% of the voting intentions in major polls, and the top seven are tangled with gaps ranging from hundredths to five percentage points.
In fact, there are, yes, preferred alternatives. Together, the options to cancel the vote and the option of not attending the polls total 30%, according to a survey by the Ipsos institute. “There are no words to describe the situation, maybe a tear would do better,” says sociologist Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, for whom the polls should be read week after week. “Candidate attrition is so great that those in leadership fall quickly, and the following week there are new leaders. It is an unprecedented situation not to know for sure or at least who will be one of the two candidates in the second round. “
For the experts heard by Folha, this election reflects the situation of party dismantling, something that comes from the Fujimorist period (1990-2000), the increase in mistrust vis-à-vis politics caused by scandals of repeated corruption – one involving Brazilian entrepreneur Odebrecht – and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Peru is one of the South American countries hardest hit by Covid, with 53,978 deaths since the start of the crisis – and now it is seeing a further increase in cases.
“There were elections in other countries during the pandemic, but not an election at a new peak of the pandemic, it is irresponsible,” adds Tuesta. However, the rush to conduct the election anyway on the due date also responds to the instability of the current Peruvian government.
Interim President Francisco Sagasti is the fourth in the current term and defends that the date be respected so that Peru will celebrate its 200th anniversary of independence with the inauguration of elected officials on July 28.
First, according to a Datum Institute survey, five “outsiders” and only two more experienced names: the right-hander Keiko Fujimori, former congressman and daughter of the autocrat Alberto Fujimori, with 9.3% of the voting intentions, and leftist leader Veronika Mendoza, with 5.9%.
The survey also shows left-wing populist Yohny Lescano with 9.1% and far-right candidate Rafael López Aliaga with 8.9%. Lescano, who had been leading for a few weeks, has already fallen. Among its proposals are a greater presence of the state in the exploration of minerals – the greatest wealth of the country -, the creation of jobs and a greater restriction on the entry of Venezuelan immigrants.
López Aliaga, on the other hand, has been called “Peruvian Bolsonaro” because of his ties to the Catholic Church – he is a member of Opus Dei – and his conservative customs. He is against abortion and, like Lescano, the entry of Venezuelans. The picturesque aspects of his personality – he claims to use a belt with needles to suppress his sexual desire and get closer to God – has gained media attention and as a result the candidate is gaining space in the media.
In the ups and downs of the polls, names that have gained strength recently are Pedro Castillo, a former activist who led a national teachers’ strike in 2017 and is now a left candidate, with 8.2%, and the liberal economist and scholar. Hernando de Soto, with 7.2%. Leader of the polls until months ago, George Forsyth, former guardian of Alianza Lima, is down, with 7.4%.
“It is such a dark scenario that I cannot imagine a return of Peru to a party system like the one before, with the commitment of politicians to a certain set of ideas,” says political scientist Alberto Vergara, professor at the Universidad del Pacífico. .
The election will also define a new composition of the unicameral Congress of 130 members, in a vote contested by 11 parties. “Everything indicates that instability persists, because no party should have a majority. Thus, governance is compromised, ”says sociologist Tuesta.
For Vergara, the problem is not so much a question of institutions – the Peruvian political model, presidentialism with elements of parliamentarism, has been called into question after repeated crises and changes of leadership – but of politics. However, he defends the revision of the figure of the vacancy motion for reasons of moral incapacity, which is “very subjective and leaves room for arbitrariness”.
The presidential impeachment mechanism, recently used against Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martín Vizcarra, is faster and less bureaucratic than impeachment – also existing in the country – and, therefore, brings more instability to the continuity of rulers.
The winner of the election will inherit not only a country affected by the pandemic, but also a country struggling with many economic problems. There was a reduction in GDP in 2020 of 11% and an increase in unemployment of 13.8%. A probable second round is scheduled for June 6.