The electoral campaign for the presidential elections this Sunday (11) in Peru is atypical. Not only because the elections will be held in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19, which has changed the routines of its citizens and, as a result, the strategies of presidential and congressional candidates.
It is also atypical because the polarization of public opinion which dominated the previous elections led to a dispersion of electoral preferences. Peruvians ended up losing confidence in the institutions when, in September 2019, then-President Martin Vizcarra closed the Congress of the Republic, accusing the Popular Force party – heir to former Fujimorism – of obstructionism.
New congressional elections were called for early 2020, where the Fujimorists suffered an electoral collapse, political representation was dispersed, and in November 2020 the new parliamentarians sacked the president.
At this point, if the indecision was in competition, it would go to the second round. In the previous election, days before the vote, voters showed some determination as to who they were going to elect. There was a more or less clear map. But according to the latest polls, around 30% have not yet decided who to vote for or say they do not want to vote for any candidate.
With a candidate-driven electoral system, there were 18 presidential formulas and 476 lists in Congress in order to attract the Peruvian electorate. The candidates cover almost the entire ideological spectrum, including, as a novelty, the far right.
In addition, the quality of the candidates is called into question, their parties are seen as “surrogate wombs” and the system itself is adjusted to the candidate’s ambition, who describes an alarming democratic deficit.
The most striking aspect of this campaign is the dispersion of voting intentions. Fifty percent of preferences are distributed very tightly among six presidential candidates. However, it should be noted that no candidate considered “outsider” emerged in this case and that they were all linked to the representation system at some point in their careers.
If Antonhy Downs’ Median Voter Theorem were applicable, far-right candidate Rafael López Aliaga would not be president, as voters would tend to lean towards less radical proposals. Aliaga follows Bolsonaro’s libretto in Brazil, his campaign is orchestrated by fake news and Marxism is his imaginary enemy. Aliaga is a minority option.
Candidate and former football player George Forsyth led the polls a few months ago but is losing voter support. With a futile image built on social media, Forsyth has also come under heavy criticism for leaving the municipality of a Lima municipality to run for president.
Yonhy Lescano, the leader of the various polls and who has the support of certain factions of his Acción Popular party, is in the process of becoming the first place of the second round. However, in recent debates, Lescano has shown that he literally has no government plan and the few ideas he presented were either confusing or populist in nature.
Keiko Fujimori repositioned herself at the polls. The candidate was in preventive detention accused of receiving illegal contributions from Odebrecht during her previous election campaign. This is the third time she has run for president and if she is not leading the polls, it is because conservative religious movements have shifted their support to López Aliaga.
Veronika Mendoza is the leftist candidate. After the dissolution of the Frente Amplio, she found herself without a party, but managed to run for the Juntos por el Perú. His proposal departs from movements with popular roots in the interior of the country, such as the one led by Professor Pedro Castillo, who grew up extraordinarily in research. The candidate has sought to get closer and closer to the political center, which could allow her to occupy a better position in the home stretch.
Indirectly linked to national politics, candidate Hernando de Soto is a well-known liberal economist, author of two well-known books: “El otro Sendero” and “El misterio del capital”. However, Soto is criticized for his political pragmatism for supporting Alberto Fujimori’s coup in 1992.
The undecided will define this choice. But from July 28 – Peru’s bicentenary, which coincides with the transfer of government – the next president will face an uncertain scenario, as the progressive fragmentation of political power worsens the country’s governance.
Since the 2001 elections, no winning party has won the majority of seats in Congress: Alejandro Toledo won 38% of the seats in 2001, Ollanta Humala 36% in 2006 and Alan García 30% in 2011. The lowest result was for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who barely reached 16.4% in 2016.
It turns out that while parties are weak in the electoral arena, they are strong in the legislative arena. For a unicameral country, the system contributes to the over-representation of parties. In 2001, the two largest parties won 46.4% of the vote and 60% of the seats in the legislature; in 2016, they obtained 50.2% of the votes and 71.4% of the seats.
For 2021, the chances are that the two main parties will not achieve 30% of the vote, which means that the executive will be forced to build a very broad coalition to give political stability to the country.
The enthusiasm of Peruvians to rewrite a better future after the bicentenary of the founding of the Republic has been relegated today. Not only because of the pandemic, but also because it seems Peruvians are stuck in the desire to change without really wanting to change our reality.
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