Monday, April 11, 2011

Peruvian Elections 2011

Looks like we'll be choosing between the "menos mal" once again. The day of the elections you're going to see people with ink on their index fingers. This is done in order to prevent double voting. Here are two articles about the upcoming election. Emphasis are mine.

The following article has been taken from

LIMA, Peru—This resource-rich, corruption-bedeviled Andean nation is notorious for its volatile politics. Even so, Sunday's presidential election is shaping up to be the most unpredictable in decades.

Favored to win the most votes is Ollanta Humala, a leftist former army officer who has spooked foreign investors by promising greater state control over the economy and wealth redistribution to favor the poor.He prevailed in the first round of the 2006 presidential election only to lose a runoff.
Though preferred by 28.1 percent of voters in the latest opinion poll, Humala is expected to fall far short of the simple majority needed to win outright and avoid a June runoff. Which makes the battle for second so crucial.

Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, was running second, ahead of Alejandro Toledo, Peru's president from 2001-2006, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who served as Toledo's economy and prime minister.

The latest poll, conducted Saturday by Ipsos-Apoyo, gives Fujimori 21.1 percent; Kuczynski, 19.9 percent; and Toledo, 16.8 percent. That put Fujimori and Kuczynski in a technical tie, given the poll's error margin of 1.6 percentage points.

Peruvian law prohibits the publishing of polls domestically in the campaign's final week. Presidential votes in Peru have been little more than popularity contests since the 1980s, when established political parties saw their credibility dissolve. Even President Alan Garcia's governing APRA party is hobbling: It's not even running a presidential candidate.

Analysts say that the electorate is even more fragmented than it was in 2006, when Garcia beat Humala, 53 percent to 47 percent. The results were widely seen as a rebuff of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had openly backed Humala.

Humala, 48, now eschews all association with Chavez. This time he has enlisted Brazilian advisers allied with that country's governing Worker's Party. And he has largely dispensed with his firebrand rhetoric, though it re-emerged in final rallies, where he promised "a great redistribution of wealth" and called on supporters -- who are strongest in Peru's dirt-poor central and southern highlands -- to be vigilant against fraud.

The uncertainty is excruciating for the candidates: About 25 percent of people who registered a preference in opinion polls said they could change their mind. "And this process isn't over yet. It will probably end in the voting line," said Giovanna Penaflor, director of the Imasen polling firm.
Humala rocketed into the lead in the campaign's final two weeks, promising free nursery school and public education for all, state-funded school breakfasts and lunches, a big boost in the minimum wage and pensions for all beginning at age 65.

Keiko Fujimori, 35, has made similar populist promises in this country of 30 million where one in three Peruvians lives on less than $3 a day and lacks running water

But, unlike Humala, Fujimori is a free-market defender. While Humala says he would respect Peru's international treaties and contracts -- 60 percent of Peru's exports are from mining -- many Peruvians don't believe him.

Humala advocates rewriting the constitution, just as Chavez and his leftist allies in Bolivia and Ecuador have done, to make it easier to enact his agenda. He says he does not, however, seek to include re-election, as Chavez did to stay in office.

"We're not going to apply the Venezuelan model in Peru," Humala told foreign reporters Friday, saying he opposes placing the central bank under presidential control and artificially setting currency exchange rates. Humala's radical change appeals to many in the lower classes, which in Peru is two out of every three people.

"Thirty-seven to 38 percent in the polls say they want a radical change in the economic model. And then another third broadly agrees with the status quo but wants greater redistribution," said Harvard political scientist Steven Levitsky. The poor have barely benefited from economic growth that has averaged an impressive 7 percent over the past five years.

Humala's biggest draw may be his anti-corruption plank: He promises to give the public the right to fire elected officials at all levels. Last year, Peru was ranked 78th out of 178 countries in the global corruption index of Transparency International, tied with China, Greece, Colombia, Thailand, Lesotho and Serbia.

Keiko Fujimori has a rock-solid constituency that admires her father for defeating the Maoist-inspired Shining Path insurgency and taming hyperinflation during a decade in office. Alberto Fujimori is now serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and authorizing death squad killings. Keiko Fujimori's campaign and congressional slate are jammed with her father's former Cabinet ministers and other loyalists. Foes complain that her father calls the shots from the police station where he is incarcerated and would be the eminence grise behind a Keiko presidency.

Mario Vargas Llosa, who lost the 1990 election to Alberto Fujimori, stepped back into the fray this week. Winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, Vargas Llosa has endorsed Toledo, saying a runoff pitting Humala against Keiko Fujimori would be "a true catastrophe." Toledo, 65, squandered an early lead in the campaign, analysts say, by diluting his early message of greater economic justice, including a greater share of mining royalties for Peruvians. In the campaign's final days he shifted gears, saying "democracy is at risk" if Humala and Fujimori end up in a runoff.

Opinion polls show Toledo would easily defeat Humala in a second round while Kuczynski, 72, would lose against the "comandante." The reason has to do -- as does much in Peru -- with class and race: Toledo is indigenous by blood and was born into poverty.

Kuczynski, a German immigrant's son, is generally slammed in left-of-center news media for having represented foreign exploiters of Peru's mineral riches. Preferring to woo foreign investors, Garcia has been unable or unwilling to settle scores of social conflicts arising from environmental disputes of mining. This week, at least three protesters were killed in clashes with police in a southern coastal region over a copper mine local farmers and fishermen fear would contaminate their water. On Friday, the government canceled the project.

The following article has been taken from Seattle PI.
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru's voters will choose between an ex-army officer who vows to redistribute the nation's wealth and the daughter of incarcerated former President Alberto Fujimori when they vote for a new president in a June runoff, unofficial results show.

The outcome of Sunday's election — in which three less-polemical candidates collectively captured 44 percent but canceled each other out — reflects the disarray that has plagued Peruvian politics since Fujimori's 1990 emergence from obscurity.

His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, could end up beating Ollanta Humala in the June 5 runoff, as Humala was the lone candidate advocating a greater state role in the economy to provide poor Peruvians with a greater share of the country's mining riches.

The ex-army lieutenant colonel also won the first round in Peru's 2006 presidential vote but was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent by Alan Garcia in a runoff widely seen as a rebuff to Hugo Chavez, who had openly backed him.

This time, Humala distanced himself from the leftist Venezuelan president, while Fujimori backed away from vows to pardon her father she made two years ago when he was convicted of approving death squad killings and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa had called the Humala-Fujimori runoff option "a choice between AIDS and terminal cancer," given perceptions of their anti-democratic tendencies. 
The official vote count was slow, but complete unofficial results provided by nonprofit electoral watchdog Transparencia gave Humala 31.7 percent — well short of the simple majority needed to win outright.

Keiko Fujimori — whose father Peruvians alternately esteem and revile — got 23.3 percent, trailed by Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a 72-year-old former World Bank economist and investment banker, with 18.3 percent.

In fourth was Alejandro Toledo, Peru's president from 2001-2006, with 15.9 percent. Former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda was fifth with 9.9 percent.

Pre-election polls had indicated either Toledo or Castenda would defeat Humala in a second round while Kuczynski and Fujimori would have a harder time.

George Mason University political scientist Jo-Marie Burt said Sunday's outcome puts Peru on "a really terrible road and I think it shows how weak the whole political system really is." Politics in this resource-rich Andean nation have been chaotic since its traditional parties were unable to cope with civil war and hyperinflation in the late 1980s and all but dissolved.

"There is a lot to admire about Peru but its political class is not among its strongest assets," said Michael Shifter, president of the nonpartisan Inter-American Dialogue think tank. "It is a country of paradoxes and contradictions — impressively robust growth but precarious politics. In this election, the extremes came out on top." "There was a chance to embrace a moderate, middle ground, but that opportunity slipped away," he said.

Humala has spooked foreign investors by promising to divert natural gas exports to the domestic market and obtain greater royalties from foreign investors in Peru's mineral wealth. He called his victory proof that Peruvians "want a great transformation."

Peru is a top exporter of copper, gold and silver, commodities whose rising prices have helped fuel economic growth averaging 7 percent during Garcia's tenure. But it is a growth that has hardly trickled down to the poor. Eliminated candidate Toledo said voters simply "expressed their rage ... at having economic growth without the distribution of the benefits of that growth."

Keiko Fujimori constantly invoked her father during the campaign, running on his legacy of delivering essential services to Peru's forgotten backwater and of being tough on crime. It's a potent message in a nation 30 million where one in three live on less than $3 a day and lack running water, and the murder rate doubled under Garcia.
During her victory speech from the terrace of a downtown hotel, jubilant supporters changed "Chino. Chino. Chino," her father's popular nickname.

She thanked him and sought to dispel concerns of a return to authoritarian rule: "We are going to work my dear friends with absolute respect for democracy, press freedom, human rights and the rule of law."

Peru ranks 13th out of 17 countries in the region in citizen access to social services, according to the World Bank. In the country's rural highlands, where both Humala and Fujimori ran strongly, 66 percent of Peruvians live in poverty, half in extreme poverty, it says.

Kuczynski, a German immigrant's son who was economics and prime minister under Toledo, climbed into contention in the campaign's final weeks. But the perception of him as the candidate of big foreign capital hurt him. Toledo had led in the polls until late March, when Humala overtook him. His voters also defected to Kuczynski.

Humala, 48, made promises similar to those of Keiko Fujimori: free nursery school and public education, state-funded school breakfasts and lunches, a big boost in the minimum wage, and pensions for all beginning at age 65. He says he would respect international treaties and contracts, but many Peruvians don't believe him.

Humala, who launched a bloodless, short-lived revolt against Alberto Fujimori just before the latter fled into exile in 2000, advocates rewriting the constitution, as Chavez and his leftist allies in Bolivia and Ecuador have done. He says it will make it easier to enact reforms — vowing not to seek re-election, as Chavez and the Bolivian and Ecuadorean leaders have.

Fujimori has a rock-solid constituency thanks to her father's defeat of the Maoist-inspired Shining Path insurgency, taming of hyperinflation in the 1990s and social agenda. "Because of him we are free. Because of him we're at peace," said Luz Montesino, a 60-year-old bakery owner who voted at a school built during his presidency.

Like other Fujimori voters, she was not bothered by the dark, authoritarian side of the Fujimori legacy — including Alberto's shutting down of Congress in 1992. Nor do Keiko Fujimori backers seem concerned by critics' fears Keiko would pardon her father, and he'll call the shots in her presidency.


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