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Perú is again facing a complex general election, in the context of perhaps the worst political economic and health crisis in decades. The spectacular loss of popular credibility in the political establishment is mirrored in the amount of presidential hopefuls: 18 of them, of which polls show nothing less than five in technical tie. Abstention from voting is expected to run high.
Almost two thirds of current members of Parliament have been indicted on corruption charges. All living former presidents are in jail, wanted or under investigation for corruption.
In November 2020, a popular uprising took hundreds of thousands to the streets to protest the state of affairs, after acting president Martín Vizcarra was dismissed by Congress. Two young protesters were killed by riot police. The protest prompted yet another presidential change in order to guarantee a smooth electoral process.
According to polls, over 80 percent of Peruvians support the call for a democratic Constitutional Assembly to replace the current one, imposed by dictator Alberto Fujimori in 1983, which opened the way for a neoliberal structural adjustment. Fujimori is serving a jail sentence while his daughter Keiko (currently an MP) is running for President.
In Latin America, the country is only second to Brazil regarding the worst performance in fighting the Covid19 pandemic, with over 11,000 new cases and close to 400 deaths per day. The death toll reached 54,669 on Saturday. One of the candidates, businessman and neoliberal extremist Hernando de Soto says the solution to Peru’s Covid19 woes is to let the market deal with both health care and the vaccination process.
Super Sunday! Elections coming up in Bolivia (regional), Ecuador (presidential 2nd rd) and Peru (general). Leftist Arauz is favored in Ecuador, Bolivia's MAS is going for a majority of governors and mayors. If the continental tide continues to go left that's good news for Vzla pic.twitter.com/S4HZP1ONMv
President, two vice-presidents and 130 members of Congress are to be elected Sunday.
Here is the roster of candidates and their plans for Perú
Keiko Fujimori: Candidate for the far-right Popular Force party. Daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, convicted of human rights violations. Keiko faces trial, accused of accepting $1.2 million in illicit funding for her previous presidential bids. Accused as part of the Odebrecht scandal, for which she was in preventive prison since 2018, and has been on parole since 2020. She has promised to pardon her father if she were to win the presidency in this, her third campaign.
Verónika Mendoza: Candidate for the Together for Peru coalition (JPP) and leader of the democratic socialist New Peru party. Her leftist platform had its first presidential bid in 2016, in which she came third and was instrumental in Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s runoff victory, by backing him to prevent Keiko Fujimori from winning. She previously served in the Congress of the Republic of Peru from 2011 to 2016, representing the constituency of Cuzco.
Hernando de Soto: Candidate of the Go On Country party. Neoliberal economist, specializing in the informal economy and the importance of property rights and businesses. He is the founder of the Lima-based economic development think tank, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD). He was economic advisor to former president Alberto Fujimori. In the public sector, he served briefly as a member of the board of directors of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru in 1979.
Yonhy Lescano: Candidate for the Popular Action party. According to the latest polls, he is the favorite, but only with a minimum advantage. Served as a member of Congress from 2001 to 2019 representing Puno constituency, he achieved the nomination on a center-left platform in an internal election against the conservative Edmundo del Aguila Herrera. His support is mainly concentrated in the southern regions of the country, where his home region is located. He has opposed several decisions of his party, such as when the dissolution of Congress occurred in 2019, and he supported the measure of the then president, Martin Vizcarra, while he was not present at the swearing in of vice president, Mercedes Araoz. His party was affected politically, after the dismissal of President Martin Vizcarra and the abrupt rise to power of the then president of Congress and fellow party member, Manuel Merino, who only lasted 5 days in office until he finally resigned after the widespread protests in November 2020.
Ciro Gálvez: Candidate for the National United Renaissance party. Lawyer. Has run for president twice before, in 2001 and 2006. His platform is conservative on social issues and he is opposed to LGBT rights. His running mate is former pastor and businessman, Claudio Zolla, following a political agreement with the New Peru Liberal Party, founded and led by Zolla.
George Forsyth: Candidate for the National Victory party. Former goalkeeper for Peru’s national team. He entered politics as a councilman of the district of La Victoria in 2010, and as mayor of the district from 2019 until his resignation in October 2020 to run for president. During his campaign he was accused of having offered a position to one of his friends in the Municipality of La Victoria with an excessive remuneration, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office is already investigating the case.
Rafael López Aliaga: Candidate for the conservative Popular Renewal party. Businessman with no relevant political experience, gained political traction due to his conservative and populist rhetoric, adding to his self-proclamation as “the Peruvian Bolsonaro,” due to his religious views (member of the far-right Catholic movement, Opus Dei) and far-right policies similar to the Brazilian president. His campaign is running under a totally right-wing platform that emphasizes opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. During his campaign he has been accused of owing millions in taxes.
Julio Guzmán: Candidate and one of the founders of the Purple Party. Economist, university professor and former civil servant, he first ran for the presidency in 2016 for the All for Peru party, but was disqualified due to irregularities in the nomination process. His new party is currently represented in the government by Francisco Sagasti as president of Peru, after the impeachment of Martin Vizcarra and the resignation of Manuel Merino, which has negatively influenced his campaign due to the government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru, including the lack of oxygen and vaccines and political attacks by opposition parties. In addition, an alleged infidelity, revealed during the electoral campaign for the 2020 Extraordinary Parliamentary Elections, has harmed his public image.
Daniel Urresti: Candidate for the We Can Peru party. Former army general and Minister of the Interior in the government of Ollanta Humala. Elected to Congress with the highest number of votes in the 2020 Extraordinary Parliamentary Elections, he secured the party’s presidential nomination as the sole candidate. He previously ran for president for the Peruvian Nationalist Party in 2016, although the party withdrew his candidacy from the race, and placed second for mayor of Lima in the 2018 Lima municipal elections. He is currently under investigation for the murder of a journalist during his years in the Peruvian Army.
Ollanta Humala: Candidate for the Peruvian Nationalist Party and the only former president of Peru running for a second non-consecutive term. Former lieutenant-colonel in the Army, he had a low level of popularity during his presidency due to his political performance, despite the country’s economic stability. He served a brief pre-trial detention from 2017 to 2018 for allegedly receiving illicit money from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, for which he continues to be investigated along with his wife Nadine Heredia, their case is on the verge of an oral hearing.
Daniel Salaverry: Candidate for the We Are Peru party. An architect, he began his career in politics for the mayoralty of Trujillo with the Peruvian Aprista Party in 2010, and the Popular Force party in 2014. With the latter, he was elected to Congress in 2016. As a member of the parliamentary majority, he was elected president of Congress in 2018, but resigned from the Popular Force party because he allegedly received pressure from the Fujimorista leadership to undermine Martín Vizcarra’s presidency. As part of his campaign, Vizcarra remains the main thrust for his presidential bid due to the former president’s candidacy for Congress for Lima constituency. He is under investigation after being accused of having falsified his representation reports when he was a congressman, the case is in the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
César Acuña: Candidate and founder of the Alliance for Progress party. He entered politics in 2000 when he was elected to Congress, where he served until 2006. Subsequently, he served as mayor of Trujillo from 2007 to 2014, and as governor of La Libertad in 2015. He initially ran for president in 2016, but was disqualified for alleged vote buying in an election campaign. In addition, his popularity has declined due to his party’s recent voting records in Congress, which contradicts his campaign rhetoric, although he initially led the congressional polls after impressively winning the second highest number of seats in Peru’s 2020 parliamentary elections.