After over three weeks since the municipal elections, the people of Lima are still not certain of who will be their next mayor. This delay in the ballot counting does look uncharacteristic of the age of the Internet, but even though the governmental body in charge, the ONPE [es] (National Office of Electoral Processes), had the electronic voting project developed for some time, there was no political will to make use of it until now, when after pressure by the media and the citizenship in general, the peruvian congress approved the law to implement gradually and progressively electronic voting. Just before the passage of the law journalist Juan Carlos Luján voiced his opinion:
Llama mucho la atención escuchar o leer declaraciones de políticos que casi poco o nada saben sobre la propuesta elaborada por la ONPE. Desde comienzos de año la ONPE experimenta con un sistema desarrollado íntegramente en el Perú con aportes de Innova PUCP y la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. Tuve ocasión de verlo en funcionamiento y la verdad es que trae novedades que espero puedan apreciar bien aquellos que hablan a diestra y siniestra sobre un tema poco conocido -o mejor dicho- divulgado. Y ahí sí una critica constructiva a la ONPE. Debieron difundir ampliamente el tema entre quiénes tienen hoy el poder de decidir su aprobación.
But going back to the subject of the elections, at the time of this writing it has been reported [es] that “with 96.484 percent of the ballots counted… the candidate… Susan Villarán, holds a 38.381 percent of the vote; and Lourdes Flores … 37.592 percent of the votes … the difference between both candidates is of 34 thousand 882 votes.” It is precisely this minimal difference between both candidates that has put the spotlight on electronic voting, since in previous cases when the vote difference has been clear and indisputable, the winner could be defined with mathematical certainty and the remaining votes and vote scrutiny did not matter that much, something that in this case is decisive.
This slow process has brought up all kinds of doubts, suspicions [es] and even accusations of attempt to commit fraud [es] mainly by supporters of Fuerza Social, the party of Susana Villarán, which besides narrow margins, has maintained the lead throughout the whole process. On Monday Villarán headed an encampment [es] in front of the National Jury of Elections (JNE) to “defend the votes of all the people of Lima” and “so the delay in the delivery of electoral results does not repeat itself in the general elections of April 2011″. This was rejected by the people of Lourdes Flores, her opponent, who said that [es] “just like before when fear was brought to the population by terrorist practices, Susan Villarán pretends to do this on the electoral system”. It must be pointed out that Villarán's association with extreme left groups was something used quite a bit during the campaign.
A sub product of this electoral process was the campaign denominated “Adopt a Ballot [es]” which appeared a few days before the elections because of the fear of Villarán's people of not being able to absorb the costs of appealing the resolution (S/53.00 or US $18.97 each) of the more than 8300 voting ballots that were under the possession of the Special Electoral Juries of the JNE. The idea was that members of the party and sympathizers would collaborate on the appeals costs of one or more ballots. But the idea did not bring much results and it does not look like it will be necessary to appeal many ballots either. However, bloggers like economist Silvio Rendón of the Gran Combo Club believe [es] there is nothing sure about the electoral results:
En Lima: tendencias en el escrutinio [ES] señalé que “La tendencia es a la convergencia entre los porcentajes de las dos candidatas” y, en base a una extrapolación lineal, señalé también que Flores iba camino a alcanzar a Villarán. … Que Flores pase y gane a Villarán puede ciertamente no ser el resultado final pues, efectivamente, faltan las actas de las zonas en que gana Villarán, pero sí que tiene un significado político y psicológico nada desdeñable. Lourdes Flores incluso perdiendo la alcaldía sale reivindicada y fortalecida de una elección ajustada.
However, not everyone believes the same, for example blogger Troba from Trobando Voy among other things writes [es] that:
En Perú, cuando los dueños de la pelota pierden las elecciones, éstos se olvidan de sus fingidos modales democráticos y se les sale el corazoncito facho y gamonal: ensucian el conteo, demoran el proceso, manipulan a su antojo las cifras, dinamitan la esperanza y la legítima celebración de los demonizados de siempre, que se ganaron el triunfo a base de sudor, unidad y esfuerzo … Es que nunca la vieron venir. Ni en sus peores pesadillas soñaron perder Lima, su otrora irreductible bastión. Mucho menos frente a una Alianza de Izquierdas, siempre satanizados o tildados de rojos, violentistas, retrógrados. La eterna candidata de los ricos y de los narcos ha tenido su más dolorosa derrota, pese a las absurdas explicaciones de “expertos” para parecerla triunfadora, o perdedora por un estrecho margen: perder una elección donde llegó a tener 30 puntos de ventaja, faltando 3 meses, es una derrota inobjetable.
Meanwhile, the government's official spokesmen asked [es] the candidates waiting for the official results to remain clam; the results could be ready Tuesday or during the week, and they said that the electoral procedures could be expedited [es] for next year's presidential elections. Some bloggers are circulating information [es] about possible members for the council of municipalities and others already speculate [es] about the possible alliances and political accommodations that will take place before the presidential elections, which by what has been seen so far, will be tightly contested, and why not say it, dirty.
Update 10/27: The Peruvian Times reports that, “More than three weeks after residents in Lima went to the polls to elect a new mayor, conservative candidate Lourdes Flores has conceded to Susana Villarán of the leftist Social Force party.” La República [es] uploaded a video where Flores admits her defeat.