Fujimori and Humala Win First Round Vote of Presidential Elections

13 April 2011

10 April saw nationwide elections in Peru to determine who will govern the country when incumbent President Alan García’s term ends in July. The final tally of votes put Ollanta Humala in first place with approximately 32 percent of the vote. He was followed by Keiko Fujimori with 23.5 percent, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with 18.5 percent and former President Alejandro Toledo with just under 16 percent. Luis Castañeda, the ex-mayor of Lima who started the campaign as favourite for the presidency, polled less than 10 percent. As no candidate won an absolute majority of votes the top two-polling candidates, Humala and Fujimori, will face each other in a second round vote on 5 June.

Support for the two was strongest in the provinces, with Lima favouring the pro-business policies of Kuczynski, a former prime minister, over their more populist approaches. For the 45 percent of Peruvians, and 60 percent of Limeños, who did not vote for the two front-runners the result is somewhat disconcerting. Prior to the first round vote, Nobel Prize winning author Mario Vargas Llosa declared a run-off between Humala and Fujimori would be akin to a choice between “terminal cancer and aids” (though he has since declared his support for Humala in the second round).

Critics fear a victory for Keiko would mean a return to the authoritarian and corrupt politics of her father, former President Alberto Fujimori (currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses). Her refusal to condemn her father’s crimes or, until this week, rule out pardoning him have done little to assuage such concerns. Humala on the other hand spooked many, particularly the middle-classes in Lima, during his 2006 presidential campaign with pledges to nationalise state industries. Expressions of support from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez served only to compound such fears.

This time round however, Humala has moderated his rhetoric and allied himself with a number of politicians from the centre-left. Pledges for some redistributive reform remain but are far less radical than those of his 2006 political program. In the current campaign he has distanced himself from Chávez, instead seeking to portray himself as a Peruvian version of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s recently departed and popular president.

For the moment, such moves seem to have gained Humala reluctant support among sections of the Peruvian population for whom Fujimorismo remains anathema. Though his victory in June is by no means assured, latest poll results put him ahead with a six-point lead over his rival.

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