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Peru's First Round Elections

peru elections

“Ubique Su Mesa” (Find Your Polling Place) by Patrice.

With about 85% percent of the votes counted, the fate of Peru's second round presidential elections depends largely on the narrow (and narrowing) race between moderate leftist Alan García and pro-business candidate Lourdes Flores who currently trails García by only one percentage point. The University of British Columbia-based weblog Peru Election 2006 has a handy graph of each candidate's percentage share of votes as more and more of the ballots get counted. What started as a tight race between all three candidates gave nationalistic firebrand Ollanta Humala a comfortable first place margin while Lourdes – who many had predicted to win – slipped into third place as more rural votes were counted.

With a touch of comic metaphor, “Inka-Wolfy” of Un Lobo en Perú describes “the race.”

The battle for second place however is as close and competitive as it gets. Alan Garcia, the veteran from Team APRA, delivered a very good race so far, exceeding expectations from the get-go. He was able to keep his car's nose in Flores’ gear box right from the start and waited patiently for his opportunity. And it payed off. Some 40 laps ago he charged ahead into second place in a rather unspectacular move, overtaking Flores in turn 3. The reason may well be his new aerodynamic, wind-channel tested, Armani racing suit that works as his lucky charm. Cameras showed his wife Pilar and his children biting their fingernails in tense excitement.

Lourdes Flores, driving for wealthy Team UN, ran in second for most of the race, keeping Garcia in her rear-viev mirror. However, she has lost her 6th gear in lap 410 and the mechanics crew wasn't able to fix it. To make matters worse, one can notice a little bit of white smoke coming out of her engine… not a good sign. However, she's trying desperatly to stay in Garcia's slipstream and hoping for a late surge. Racing fans are speculating about a secret little red button they saw on her dashboard which many believe will ignite some sort of turbo effect. So far it isn't working and her international sponsors (Starbucks, TGIF, KFC, Nestle, BMW and others) are getting nervous and start wondering if she has it in her.


Of course, by “international sponsors” he is referring to Flores’ overwhelming support by the business class, both in Peru and abroad. A.M Mora y Leon takes yesterday's gains in the Peruvian financial market as a sign that Flores will beat out Humala in the second round, but in a comment Inka-Wolfy says he believes that it is Garcia who has the best chance against Humala in the next round.

Peruvian-American Maria, writing from San Francisco, describes her family's disappointment in the apparent first round win by Ollanta Humala:

Basically, Ollanta Humala is in the lead of the race. With 30% of the popular votes, he has secured his place in the second running (this due to the lack of a majority vote). From a democratic perspective, this is not a good sign. He has promised to ‘share the wealth’ of Peru amongst the excluded population; the non-european descent population. Which ideally, it is a great concept but very unfeasible with a country like mine – Peru. Peru needs foreign investment to boost the economy, provide for more jobs and be able to remain expanding the growth that the country has been going through for the past 52 months. Having a Peru follow the Chavez-Venezulean model just brings more chaos, foreign animosity and he (Ollanta) will most likely overthrow the congress to build a new one to his favor.

This race is becoming to nerve wrecking for my family, my peruvian friends and myself. We are in the midst of a nervous breakdown. This is either the beginning of the end of Peru, or the begining of a more hopeful future.

Maria goes on to mention that Flores still has some hope to make the second round because Peruvian votes from abroad – thought to favor Flores – have yet to be counted. Maxwell A. Cameron does some number crunching in a post titled “Could voters abroad decide this election?” and comes to the conclusion that if Flores gets 65% of the ballots from abroad, it could lift her into second place. But Juan Rodriguez comments that Cameron did not include the remaining domestic votes to be counted and that he sees little chance of Flores making it to the second round. Patrice also notes that the votes from abroad could have an effect on the final results and warns, like many bloggers, that “the suspense will probably only terminate when 100 percent of the votes have been counted.”

Perú Político, a group blog by four Peruvian students and advised by Professor of Philosophy Raúl Valenzuela, also emphasizes the crucial role that votes from abroad could play:

Por tanto, los votos decisivos están en las zonas rurales alejadas y en el extranjero. Según Transparencia, hay 458 mil peruanos habilitados para votar en el extranjero. Es de suponer que una gran cantidad de ellos no acudieron a votar, pues muchas veces las mesas de sufragio están a varios cientos de kilómetros de distancia del lugar en donde reside el elector del extranjero. Según un comentario de nuestro lector Laslo, se estima que alrededor del 30 % de peruanos residentes en el extranjero acuden a votar. Esto representaría 0,83 % del electorado total. En vista del margen que separa a García de Lourdes, este pequeño porcentaje bien puede ser decisivo.

So, the decisive votes are in the remote countryside and abroad. According to Transparency International, there are 458 thousand Peruvians qualified to vote abroad. It can be assumed that a good amount of them did not go to vote since the polling places are often several hundreds of kilometers away from where the voter resides. According to a comment by our reader, Laslo, he estimates that around 30% of Peruvian residents abroad go to vote. This would represent 0.83 % of the total electorate. In view of the margin that separates García and Lourdes, this small percentage could be decisive.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to find support for the leading candidate, Humala Ollanta among Peru's blogging class. Meli, clearly a Flores supporter, says (ES):

Si Ollanta y Alan se van a la segunda vuelta, ¿por quién votaremos? Cualquiera sea el ganador de estos dos, yo creo que me voy… sí, me voy, ¡pero al cielo! Como decía mi adorado Bayly ayer: no sé sabe qué sería peor: si cortarte el testículo izquierdo o el derecho. Yo no tengo testículos, pero tengo corazón, y ahora está partío…

If Ollanta and Alan both make the second round, who will we vote for? Whoever turns out the winner of these two, I think I'm leaving … yup, I'm going, to die! Just like my dear Bayly [Wikipedia link] said yesterday: “I don't know what's worse: to cut off your left testicle or your right.” I don't have testicles, but I do have a heart and now it's broken.

In a comment on Meli's post, Diva – a Peruvian living in Colombia – agrees:

Con el mismo corazón partío a la distancia. Yo felizmente sí voté muy tranquilamente. Hubo muchos peruanos en el consulado pero todo estuvo bien. Terrible nuestra situación como peruanos no? Qué pena que sucedan estas cosas. Como lo leí en un blog, parecemos más bien 2 países en vez de uno. Cada lado ve solo sus intereses.

I have the same broken heart from a distance. I voted contently and calmly. There were many Peruvians in the consulate, but everything was ok. It's terrible, our situation as Peruvians no? It's a shame that these things happen. As I read in another blog, sometimes it seems more like we're two different countries. Each side only sees its own interests.

The ever-comical Título del Blog gets a lot of comment applause after stating his own nihilistic interpretation of the vote results:

1.) El 30% de los peruanos está de acuerdo en cagar al país.
2.) El 25% tiene muy mala memoria.
3.) Otro 25% no votó por quien realmente quiso.

1.) 30% of Peruvians are in agreement of shitting on their country.
2.) 25% have a very bad memory.
3.) The other 25% didn't vote for who they really wanted.

Foreshadowing the second round, which will take place in late May or early June, Boz predicts:

Expect an ugly second round. It's already been a very negative campaign from all sides and I expect that to continue into round two. About 45% of Peruvians will not see their round one choice running and will need to vote for their second option. This will lead to each side demonizing the other.

For the very latest results, check the website of the National Office of Electoral Processes (ES). For more reactions from Peruvian bloggers on the election results, visit this thread on BlogsPerú.

4 comments

  • […] David Sasaki at Global Voices has an excellent, comprehensive fresh news roundup on the Peruvian election here. […]

  • Thanks for your summary. Very helpful.

  • Zad Demenny

    Quite funny that Ms flores puts all of her faith in the foreign votes. This clearly indicates -as any peruvian living in Peru might see- why is she so close to lose this election. She just represents the interests of a small wealthy-pro market elite that has always turned their backs on the real country: those elusive rural votes that now are sealing her announced tragic fate.

  • Carolina, Perú

    Lo que dice Zad Demenny es realmente cierto.Es por eso que perdío en primera vuelta.Porque la persona que gobierne Perú, lo va ha hacer para los que viven en su territorio no para los que viven en el extranjero y que por la distancia ya no viven en nuestra realidad, ni se verán directamente afectados por las decisiones que se tomen. Pienso que los residentes en otros países ya no deberían votar obligatoriamente.

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