In the most fragmented presidential race in Peruvian history, the hapless left-wing leader Pedro Castillo, 51, who rushed to the polls last week and held onto the lead since Sunday night (11), must confirm its place in the next phase.
With 90% of the votes counted, the most likely scenario is that he will appear in the second round, in June, with a right-wing opponent: ex-congressman Keiko Fujimori, 45, or economist Hernando de Soto, 79 years old. His opponent may also be the far-right candidate Rafael López Aliaga, who is called “Peruvian Bolsonaro” for his link with the Catholic Church – he is a member of Opus Dei – and for the conservative agenda of customs.
Until 9 p.m. on Monday (12), Castillo led with 18.89%, followed by Keiko (13.25%), De Soto (11.86%) and Aliaga (11.83%)
With a little distance, leftist Veronika Mendoza, ex-pledge of recent years (Julio Guzmán), populist Yohny Lescano, former Alianza Lima player George Forsyth and even a former president, Ollanta Humala (2011) have been left behind. -2016).
Castillo, 51, is a surprise to many analysts. When reporting the first results, CNN in Spanish didn’t even have a picture of him to put on the board. Castillo showed himself to the world in a picturesque way, going to vote mounted on his horse, in Cajamarca (in the Andean region).
Unionist and high school teacher, Castillo became known nationally for having led teachers’ strikes, the most famous of them in 2017. “I would like to thank the forgotten peoples of my country, salute the men and women. women who are in the corners of the country, greet those who they are beyond the borders of the motherland, where the state does not arrive. Today, the Peruvian people have just taken the blindfold off him, ”he said, learning the first results that put him in mind.
A candidate for the Perú Libre alliance, he advocates higher salaries for employees in the education sector. He has an anti-corruption rhetoric and proposes to dissolve the Constitutional Court and the 1993 Constitution – according to him, those responsible for authorizing irregular practices.
Some of his campaign promises are seen as quite authoritarian. Castillo plans, for example, to regulate the media and to put an end to “television which only spreads garbage”. And he has promised to reduce the civil service, which he considers corrupt.
The candidate is against abortion, equal marriage and euthanasia.
In the economy, it promises more state intervention and the nationalization of oil companies and energy production. Castillo says his new constitution will implement “equitable asset sharing” in Peru.
Less surprising is the candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, 45, who is running for the third time for the presidency. In recent times, the ex-congressman has launched his own political career – after many years known as “Fujimori’s daughter”, in reference to ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).
“If Keiko wins or Keiko loses, today it will be more because of his merits or his mistakes, his political trajectory is already long enough for him to answer for his successes or his mistakes”, explains the analyst. Alberto Vergara.
A graduate in business administration from Boston University, Keiko is married to an American and has two daughters. During the last term, he led the Força Popular, a Fujimorista party, in its attempts to overthrow Pedro Pablo Kuczynski – to whom he lost in 2016 by a difference of just over 50,000 votes.
The prospect of coming to power that year drew crowds into the streets to protest a possible return to Fujimorism. With that, the left decided, at the last minute, to support the PPK (as it is called), and it ended up winning the election.
In 2018, Keiko was arrested on charges of money laundering and receiving two money from Brazilian entrepreneur Odebrecht. In 2019, he obtained a habeas corpus, but the process is not yet complete.
Embedded with Keiko, economist Hernando de Soto would be an option for the more conservative right, since he defends a traditional agenda in customs, but liberal in the economy. De Soto grew up outside Peru, when his family fled the military regime imposed by Manuel Odría (1948-1956) and studied in Switzerland. An economist, he has worked with international organizations on strategies to fight hunger in the poorest regions.
Ultra-right-wing López Aliaga, in turn, gained attention during the campaign mainly for picturesque aspects of his personality – he claims, for example, to use a belt with needles to suppress his sexual desire and get closer to God.
Analysts said this year’s election reflects the dismantling situation of Peruvian parties, growing distrust of politics caused by repeated corruption scandals and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Peru is one of the South American countries hardest hit by Covid, with 1.6 million cases and nearly 55,000 deaths since the start of the crisis – and is now seeing a further increase in cases.
Despite the worsening pandemic, the election remained on schedule in response also to the instability of the Peruvian government.
Interim President Francisco Sagasti is the fourth in the current term, which began with the election of the PPK in 2016, which he resigned before going through impeachment proceedings for involvement in bribes.
His successor, Martín Vizcarra, was removed from his post in November 2020 after facing two impeachment cases, also accused of receiving bribes, which would place him in the category of ” moral incapacity ”, preventing him from remaining in office.
Subsequently, Congressman Manuel Merino de Lama took over for just six days, who resigned after episodes of violence following the institutional crisis.