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Peru’s merry-go-rounders


by Danielle Pereira

On 10 April, some 30 million Peruvians will head to polling stations across the Andean nation – where voting is obligatory – and cast their first-round ballots for president.

The current incumbent, Ollanta Humala, is barred from standing for re-election by a law designed to combat power consolidation. But this principle is endangered by former presidents’ determination to pursue non-consecutive terms. This is the case for two of the race’s front-runners: Keiko Fujimori and Alan García.

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García, who was polling at near 10 per cent in pre-election surveys in January, has served as president twice before: from 1985-90 in the middle of a deep financial and social crisis, and then again from 2006-11, during a period of unprecedented growth and stability – though he left office under the cloud of corruption allegations.

Fujimori has not been president before, but her father Alberto has. He followed on from García in 1990 and led the country through a series of wrenching IMF-sponsored financial reforms as well as an all-out war in the country’s interior against Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a millenarian Communist guerrilla group.

Alberto Fujimori’s regime was marked by a penchant for autocracy. He dissolved Congress in a 1992 ‘solo-coup’, which ultimately led to a major mobilization against him and his top lieutenants in 2000. Alejandro Toledo, who served as president between Fujimori and García’s second term, is also running.

Keiko, as Fujimori’s daughter is known, is running a campaign that not only recalls her father’s time in office, but is being explicitly managed by Alberto himself from the prison cell that he occupies following a conviction for human rights abuses.

Peruvian daily El Comercio reported that over the course of 90 days the ex-president received no fewer than 653 visitors, among them campaign managers, local party cadres and even foreign journalists. Keiko has repeatedly said that she would pardon her father upon taking on the presidential mantle – a move some 35 per cent of the electorate apparently supports.

Following Keiko in the polls are the technocratic octogenarian Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Cesar Acuña, an entrepreneur and politician who has repeatedly been investigated for misallocated campaign funds.

If, as is most likely, no candidate gains a simple majority, voters will be back in the booths on 5 June.

Lucas Iberico Lozada

New Internationalist issue 490 magazine cover This article is from the March 2016 issue of New Internationalist.
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