Peru Election 2006

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Left in limbo: Will Ollanta Humala take Peru the way of Venezuela?

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Maxwell A. Cameron
The Guardian. Comment is free
April 10, 2006 12:21 PM

Ollanta Humala has emerged as the top vote-winner of the presidential election in Peru. A quick count by the non-governmental organization Transparencia gave the radical nationalist candidate 30% of the vote. This is 20 points short of the 50% plus one vote necessary to win in a first round. Under Peru’s electoral rules, Humala must run in a second round election, which will be scheduled after the official voting results are published.
The runner-up has not yet been proclaimed. The race for second spot between conservative candidate Lourdes Flores, who led an alliance called National Unity, and Alan Garcia, the leader of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), is too close to call. Transparencia estimated that both have 24% of the vote; the difference between them was simply too small permit a prediction.
Depending on who places in the runoff, Peru will face quite different second round election campaigns.
Humala is a former army commander who led a military rebellion in 2000, shortly after the president, Alberto Fujimori, resigned. He was expelled from the army, then pardoned and given a post abroad. After being forced to retire, Humala devoted himself to organizing a movement that calls for the renegotiation of contracts with foreign enterprises, an end to forcible measures to stop coca cultivation, and the rejection of the recently negotiated North American free trade agreement with the United States. His support is strongest in the provinces, in rural areas, and among the poor.
Lourdes Flores is the leader of the Popular Christian party, and she advocates free enterprise with a stronger emphasis on social policy. Her support is strongest in Lima, and among more affluent, educated, female and urban voters. A campaign between Flores and Humala would pit Lima against the provinces, rich against poor, right against left.
Alan Garcia served as Peru’s president between 1985 and 1990. He mismanaged the economy and the counter-insurgency effort, but in 2001 he made an impressive comeback and nearly won the election in a runoff against current incumbent President Alejandro Toledo. His support is strongest in the north, and is fairly evenly spread across social classes. A campaign between Garcia and Humala would pit an old pol against an up-start, a leader of an organized party against an outsider, a populist-cum-establishmentarian against a radical nationalist.
Should Humala win, the victory will be widely seen as further evidence that the region is turning its back on neo-liberal policies favoured by the United States. Humala has been compared with Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, and Bolivia’s recently elected president, Evo Morales. Like Morales, he opposes US drug policy in the region, and has allied himself with representatives of coca-producing peasants. Like Chavez, he has promised to convene a constituent assembly to re-write the nation’s constitution.
Although Humala is the current front-runner, he may have trouble in a second round. He has been accused to human rights abuses during the time he served as a commander of a military base in 1992. There have also been allegations that elements in Humala’s entourage are linked to Alberto Fujimori’s shadowy spymaster, Vladimiro Montesinos. These and other accusations have tarnished Humala’s image as a tough corruption fighter, and could make it hard for him to capture the additional 20% of the popular vote necessary to win an absolute majority in the second round.

Written by Max

April 10th, 2006 at 12:30 pm

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