Peru Election 2006

The archived version

Alan Garcia on Strategy, Power, and Governability

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Maxwell A. Cameron
June 11, 2006

Photos: M.A. Cameron
In a meeting with the foreign press on Friday, June 9, Alan Garcia was asked about his admiration for François Mitterrand. The reporter mentioned that Ollanta Humala professes admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles De Gaulle, and he wondered whether Garcia would reflect on the tension between military men and social democrats.
Garcia said that military commanders tend to give commands and orders; they value order and “verticalize” society. Since the public rejects the tendency of democratic decision-making to be slow, the challenge is to demonstrate that democracy can operate within an authoritative and efficient state.
But Garcia said that it does not take a military man to govern with authority and energy, and this is why he admired Mitterrand. In addition to being an egalitarian republican and a socialist, Mitterrand also had superior tactical and strategic capacity. That Garcia identified closely with Mitterrand in this respect was made manifest in his statement that “a civilian can be a better tactician than a military man”—an obvious allusion to Humala.
Asked about the nature of power, Garcia said that power equals blame. Whoever has power is immediately blamed for everything. Therefore, who shares power also shares blame. Power never belongs to a single person or party. He cited political scientist Robert Dahl’s Who Governs? to make the case that in all democratic decisions power is distributed across a wide range of institutions. The politicians who have known how to share power, such as Mitterrand and Bill Clinton, have completed their terms as winners. “Whoever shares power, ends up winning” he said.
Concerning the challenges of governability facing the country, Garcia rejected the idea that he has to privilege the southern highlands where voters rejected him in favour of Humala. He insisted that he has won 7 million votes and is not going in “Humalize” himself (“no me voy a humalizar”). “Let us not forget the majoritarian message of the electorate. My first commitment is to my program and my electorate.”
Garcia also had harsh words for Humala for refusing to accept defeat gracefully. “He does not know how to lose. If one does not have greatness, one cannot lose with greatness. I regret that so many Peruvians have given their votes to people who don’t know how to lose.”
“The waters have returned to their normal level,” said Garcia with respect to the outcome of the election. That is, in spite of fears of an “irruption of something irrational” during the election, the result has been sealed without any disorder. If Humala persists in intransigent opposition Garcia said he would respond with the law. He called Humala someone who has recently left the barracks and needs to learn democratic habits.

Written by Max

June 11th, 2006 at 4:35 pm

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