After a presidential period (2016-2021) marked by institutional setbacks and with four incumbents in charge, Peru is playing its luck in a polarized and uncertain election which has everything to prolong the instability.
This Sunday (6), in one of the worst moments of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Peruvians go to the polls to decide, in the second round, between left-wing outsider Pedro Castillo and former MP Keiko Fujimori , daughter of an autocrat.
“This is the worst second round we have ever had, with the certainty that we will elect someone who will not be prepared for the job,” said analyst Alberto Vergara.
According to the most recent survey, carried out by the Ipsos Institute, there is a technical link. Castillo appears with 51.1% of the vote, and Keiko, with 48.9%. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points. Recall that both passed the second round with few votes – Castillo with 19% and Keiko with 13%, in a fragmented scenario in which there were also 16 other candidates.
When the campaign for the second round began, Castillo managed to open more than 10 percentage points of advantage over his opponent. Keiko did, however, gain the support of certain sectors further to the center and to the right and reduced the leader’s margin of advantage.
The polling institutes, however, reinforce that the rejection, known in Peru as “anti-motorcycle”, may not allow candidates to have added many more voters in the home stretch. According to the Datum Institute, 48% of those polled said they would never vote for Keiko; while 42% said they would never choose Castillo.
For Mike Reid, columnist for British magazine The Economist, specialist in Peru and author of “Forgotten Continent”, the two candidates, if elected, “might not last long, because they promise things they cannot. hold “.
In the case of Keiko, 46, the promise is that of a new economic moment like the one the country experienced after the commodities boom, and after the autocracy that was the government of her father, Alberto. Fujimori (1990-2000), today convicted of crimes against humanity and corruption.
According to Reid, this would not be possible due to the severity of the current crisis: the Peruvian economy has been the one that has suffered the most from the impact of the pandemic in South America, falling by 11% in 2020, while that poverty has increased by 10%.
And another reason is the fact that “today’s Keiko is an even smaller and more empty version of the Keiko from past elections” – in her third attempt at power, she is no longer the leader of a majority party in Congress and responds to lawsuits for corruption.
In Castillo’s case, the promise is a kind of rebuilding of the country, with a new constitution and a state intervening intensively in the economy and in education. “This represents a demand for social justice that is legitimate, but cannot deliver on its promise to end the country’s inequalities,” Reid said.
Castillo, 51, whose candidacy emerged last week before the first round, is a leftist professor from the Cajamarca region in the north of the country. He never held public office and was known to have led a national strike in 2017. He then headed Conare, the teachers’ union, which has links to Movadef, the political arm of the leftist guerrilla Sendero Luminoso.
The war between the Peruvian state and the Shining Path claimed the lives of more than 70,000 people in the 1980s and early 1990s, and it only ended when peasant militias known as ” campesinas rounds “began to fight alongside the army. Castillo calls himself a “rondero” and to this day he has the support of the “ronderos” of the region, who are dedicated to helping poor communities in rural areas.
Interestingly, Alberto Fujimori, when he ran as a candidate, was a complete stranger, but he cultivated his support in the rural corners of the country, where opponents of Lima’s elite were hardly going. Even today, there is a certain nostalgia for Fujimorism in these regions – for the visits the former president has made and for the credit he receives for pacifying the region, ending the war against the Sendero.
Castillo defines himself as a socialist, and his promises are to “rebuild the economy from the bottom”, as he said during the last debate between the two candidates. Its platform is to nationalize the energy and mining industry – Peru is the second largest producer of copper in the world.
Her opponent, on the other hand, has more political experience, although it weighs against her the fact that she is aware, without having taken any action, of the human rights abuses and corruption which led to the arrest of the main leaders of Fujimorism.
At 19, with the divorce of her parents, Keiko began to play the role of first lady. He was a congressman from 2006 to 2011. Then he tried to be president, in 2011, when he lost to Ollanta Humala, and in 2016, when he was beaten, with very little difference in votes. , by Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, known as PPK.
In opposition, he led the Popular Force, a party that won 77 seats in Congress, unicameral and with 130 seats. With this political capital, he was able to push for the removal of the PPK and several of its ministers. Subsequently, she was charged with bribery, spent over a year in prison and continues to be prosecuted for receiving bribes and money 2 during her presidential campaigns. Among them, the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
Keiko and Castillo both promised that they would not appeal to authoritarianism and that they would respect both private property (in his case) and institutions (in his). The two candidates are, however, similar in some respects. Both are conservative – against abortion, expanding LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage.
The new Congress elected in April is quite fragmented, but the largest caucus belongs to the Peru Free party of Castillo, with 37 of the 130 deputies.
For analyst Fernando Tuesta, “if Keiko wins, there will be no break with the current system”. “The problem is that the current system is not working and is deteriorating. In the short term, business and the Armed Forces will be in their favor, but their relationship with Congress and their inability to solve the country’s problems will cause them to reject the she, which is already big, is increasing. “
On the other hand, Tuesta thinks that if Castillo wins, “there will be no communism or Chavismo in Peru, as some have it”. “Not because he doesn’t want to, but because it won’t be possible without the majority support of Congress and business. He lacks ideas, leadership and support. If he comes to the end of his term. , he will arrive in a fragile country. way. “
Friday (4), at the end of the day, the current president, Francisco Sagasti, asked the population to go to the polls according to the established schedules, to avoid crowds – the election is organized by time slots according to the number document. “I have done and will continue to do everything to ensure that these elections are democratic, peaceful and free and we will keep our promise until the last day of my mandate.”
Whoever wins Sunday’s elections assumes the presidency on July 28, when the country celebrates 200 years of independence.