Peru: an electoral class struggle? – 05/19/2021 – Latinoamérica21

In the midst of the most acute political confrontation in decades, Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Castillo have decided to set June 6, who will preside over the country from July 28, the date on which the bicentenary of the country’s independence will be celebrated. .

None of the 18 presidential candidates who competed in the first round generated enthusiasm and 30% of those eligible did not vote, despite the requirement. Half of the candidates did not even get 2% of the vote and the two who reached the second round got just over a quarter of the total: Castillo, 15.38% and Fujimori, 10.9%. The sum of white and dependent votes – 18.6% – defeats any candidacy.

There are many reasons for discouragement. In addition to the pandemic, there is a perception of a lack of progress. Only a quarter of those polled by the Ipsos poll after the first round considered their family to be progressing and 53% felt the country was in decline.

In addition, there is little hope that politicians can do anything. The Peruvian electorate is one of the lowest in Latin America in terms of appreciation and satisfaction with democracy. Politicians are doing their part: six of the former presidential candidates are under investigation, most of them for corruption. Another 136 candidates for Congress were in the same state and some of them were elected. And among politicians, it’s common to have characters who have gone through three or more party shirts as part of their career in power.

Strictly speaking, there are no parties, with the exception of Fuerza Popular, who succeeds Alberto Fujimori. What exists is grouped together for each election which lacks party and activist life, and which has only temporarily recruited members. Thus, those who lost in the first round do not have the opportunity to approve their votes for Castillo or Fujimori in the second round.


The April results and subsequent polls show a strong polarization of the vote. One axis is the regional. Keiko Fujimori wins in Lima and part of the north coast, and Pedro Castillo in the rest of the country. Lima’s centralism and the resentment it historically aroused were fully manifested in the elections.

The other axis is economic and social. The polls clearly show a sort of electoral class struggle. As Castillo increases his vote down the social ladder, Fujimori loses it.

Incidentally, the weight of each stratum of the electoral population is not the same. Sectors A and B, the highest, located mainly in Lima, represent 12%; Stratum C, 32%; Stratum D, 24%; and stratum E, 30%. This means that the underprivileged represent 54% of the total voters.

Considering the mechanism of the second round, the “anti-vote” is very important. And while Keiko’s anti-sounding was very high, it was reduced while Castillo’s was increased.

In 1990, it was said that the neglected sectors had invented a candidate – Alberto Fujimori – against the candidate of “those above”, the writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Thirty years later, the same thing seems to have happened. Pedro Castillo almost came out of nowhere. He is a rural teacher, poorly trained, but the “owner” of his party, Vladimir Cerrón, is a Cuban-trained doctor who declares himself a Marxist-Leninist with patriarchal positions. The support of Verónika Mendoza’s group – the educated left that got 6.39% in the first round – for Castilho can provide the content it does not have.

Keiko Fujimori, in addition to being his father’s “first lady” when his mother was displaced for disagreeing with her husband, faces legal action and has spent several months in pre-trial detention. She promised to forgive her father, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for corruption and human rights violations.

Both are authoritarian rulers in a country that wants an elected government, but with a steady hand. And where conservatism prevails on social issues: seven out of ten voters are against abortion, equal marriage and the million Venezuelan migrants living in Peru.


Respondents believe that the most important problem is the pandemic, but candidates do not have concrete proposals to deal with it. Time and resources are spent on mutual accusations. The current campaign is full of fake news. Facebook and Instagram have deleted dozens of fake accounts campaigning for Fujimori.

The election media and advertising revolve around anti-communism. The cases of Venezuela and North Korea are used to create fear of Castillo in the electorate in the middle sectors. For this, a very strong advertising investment floods the media, the streets and social networks.

But the main topic of discussion is the neoliberal “model” that the country has maintained for 30 years and which, although it has supported growth and reduced poverty, has had no effect on dramatic inequalities. The pandemic has revealed the dire state of public health. Therefore, the current “model” is supported by only one in ten respondents.

Why does the model need to be changed? The responses given to the researchers reveal that the poverty (31%) and inequality (27%) generated by the model are the most important reasons.

However, what matters are the trends that are defined. The latest survey from the Institute for Peruvian Studies, released on May 9, only gives Castillo a six-point advantage, a gap Fujimori is closing. And a third of respondents are not yet in favor of one or the other. However, in the first round, no researcher got the good results and it is well known that the Peruvians made up their mind in the moments leading up to the vote.


In Congress, ten parties obtained parliamentary representation and none of them reached a quarter of the seats. Over the past five years, the confrontation between the executive and Congress, motivated by personal or collective ambitions, has crippled the country. Whoever wins will not have a stable majority. And if we add to that the social conflicts – which Castillo encourages – we will probably be in a scenario of little governance.

Finally, the armed forces which, half a century ago, with Velasco Alvarado, embarked on the adventure of recreating the country to reduce social differences and failed, are today corroded by corruption. And we do not know to what extent they would be ready to “arbitrate” in the social confrontation that awaits the country.

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