Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Peruvian Politics Cheat Sheet

Campaign billboards such as these can be seen all throughout Peru
Because the political landscape of the United States has been so turbulent with the 2016 elections I find it difficult to stay up-to-date on foreign affairs, especially ones that are seldom the focus American media (i.e., the Peruvian government). Nonetheless, the political rallies and campaign advertisements that I’ve seen these past few weeks have piqued my interest in the Peruvian presidential runoff that is rapidly approaching. In the event that you, like myself, are interested in these elections, I’ve pieced together a quick guide on what’s going down:
  • Candidates: Keiko Fujimori vs. Pedro Kuczynski
  • Timeline: initial elections were held on April 20th, 2016 (Fujimori earned 39.9% of the vote; Kuczynski earned 21% of the vote); a runoff election will occur on June 5th, 2016 to establish a majority winner
  • Political Drama: If the name “Fujimori” sounded familiar, you aren’t imagining. Keiko Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, was the controversial president of Peru from 1990 to 2000. He was convicted of overseeing instances of corruption numerous human rights abuses and is now serving time in prison. Not surprisingly, Keiko’s opponents associate her with her father’s tainted reputation. Kuczynski, on the other hand, with international degrees and past careers at the World Bank and on Wall Street, has been accused of being a political puppet of the United States with little concern for social issues or the average Peruvian. In an attempt to minimize this projection, Kuczynski even renounced his United States citizenship in the months preceding the elections.
  • Issues at stake
    • Economics: Peru’s economic landscape is considerably unique; compared to other South American countries, Peru’s GDP is relatively high and is on the incline, though the country’s economy has nonetheless suffered from a recession for the past two years. Both Fujimori and Kuczynski consider themselves as pro-market politicians in the hopes of continuing Peru’s GDP growth of 2015.
    • Social Justice: Race and class divisions are of high concern for Peruvian voters, and according to public opinion, Fujimori and Kuczynski diverge on this matter. Fujimori is known for her promotion of “non-whites”, the middle-class, and grassroots movements, while Kuczynski is commonly understood to hold much more conservative views.
    • Security: While Peru is by no means the most violent of Latin and South American countries, crime associated with drug trade is on the rise. Kuczynski plans to combat this by economically incentivizing coca growers and dealers to transition to a different trade. In this sense, Alberto Fujimori’s reputation seems to be benefitting Keiko, for he was widely praised for reducing the instability and terrorism of the Shining Path organization in the 1990s.     Predictions? While Kuczynski seems to be the favorite on the international (particularly the American) political scene, the results of recent polls on Peruvian voters have favored Fujimori.
      Anti-Keiko posters in the Plaza de Armas

      Keiko supporters process through the Plaza de Armas

Hopefully this guide gives you a little insight into the current elections in Peru. Stay tuned to see who ultimately takes the presidency in merely four days!

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