Humala and Fujimori Likely to Compete in Second-Round Vote for Peruvian Presidency

Cross-posted from Peru Elections 2011, a Tumblr site of the WOLA Electoral Observation Delegation.

Lima (April 10, 2011)—Transparencia, the election monitoring group, has released its quick count, with 74% of the voting tables counted. The results, with a 1.5% margin of error, are not expected to change, and are similar to the quick count being reported by Ipsos APOYO. The Transparencia results are:

Ollanta Humala 31.3%

Keiko Fujimori 23.2%

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski 18.7%

Alejandro Toledo 15.9%

Luis Castañeda 10%

Humala and Fujimori will now face each other in a second-round vote on June 5. These results reflect the fragmentation of the right and center-right of the Peruvian political system. Interestingly, the combined results of Kuczynski, Toledo and Castañeda—all right or center-right candidates—are almost double the vote received by Fujimori.

While many observers remain stunned at Fujimori’s strong showing, she has consistently polled between 18 and 22 percent in national elections over the past three years. Today’s results are only marginally higher than what is perceived to be the “hard core” of Fujimori supporters.

At the same time, Keiko’s brother, Kenyi Fujimori, appears to have received the highest vote among all members of congress. Fujimori’s coalition Fuerza 2011 will have a large bloc in Congress, including many old faces from her father’s regime. Kenyi Fujimori has already announced that with these results, “the revindication of Fujimorismo has begun.” So too begins a period of extreme polarization in Peruvian politics.

Earlier . . .

Peru Election Update: A View from Villa El Salvador

This morning, members of the WOLA elections observation delegation visited polling sites in Villa El Salvador, a sprawling popular district in Lima’s Southern Cone. Peruvians stood in line across the district to cast their ballot for president and congressional representatives. Transparencia, a respected elections monitoring group, reports no major irregularities to date, though some candidates violated the prohibition on electoral propaganda in the few days just before the vote, particularly in the provinces. Polling companies are expected to emit exit polls shortly after voting stations close at 4:00 p.m. A more reliable quick count will be released by Transparencia some hours later, while the official elections agency, ONPE, is expected to make its first statement at 8:00 p.m.

In our conversations with voters, no single candidate emerged as the obvious victor. However, a significant number indicated their support for the front-runner, Ollanta Humala. People said that he is the only candidate who is addressing two key issues Peruvians are most concerned about: jobs and crime. One elderly woman, a veteran of the left, said, “Every five years we have to go vote. For what? All of the candidates make promises, but after they are elected they don’t deliver. I would be happy if there were jobs, and if there were an eight-hour work day with adequate pay. That would be sufficient for me.” Humala is the only candidate, she said, who is concerned with the poor. The other reason people said they are voting for Humala is because they perceive that he would be tough on crime. His background as a military officer plays into that perception both in Lima and in the provinces.

One 20-year old law student from Villa El Salvador who was voting in presidential elections for the first time said he voted for Toledo, though he noted that many of his friends had been won over by Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. “There’s not much difference between Kuzcynski and Toledo; they are both from the right,” he said. “But Kuzcynski is from the more radical right, and is not sensitive to social issues.” He added that one of the key problems facing Peru today is social conflicts, which he felt Toledo was better prepared to address. His friends, however, are impressed by Kuzcynski’s resume. “He held high posts in the IMF and the World Bank, for example. And he’s seen as different from traditional politicians.”

There is also a strong vote for Keiko Fujimori in Villa El Salvador. One 42-year-old worker from the popular district, who said he was also voting for Toledo, explained that he thought Fujimori is popular among some sectors chiefly because of her father’s legacy. “People aren’t voting for her,” he said, “they are voting for her father.” He said that many women remember that Fujimori gave large quantities of food for the soup kitchens and built lots of public works in the poorest areas of the district. “They are expecting the same should Keiko Fujimori be elected.” Anti-Fujimori sentiment is nevertheless strong in Villa El Salvador because of massive corruption and human rights violations committed during his government.

There are strong rumors in Villa El Salvador and elsewhere that Toledo supporters may be switching their vote at the last minute in favor of Kuzcynski to prevent Fujimori from making it into the second round. Given that last night’s poll by Ipsos APOYO showed only a 1.3 percent difference between Fujimori and Kuzcynski for second place, even a minor shift in voting patterns could place Kuzcynski in the second round against Humala. Either way, the second round vote is shaping up to be highly contentious.

Coletta A. Youngers is the Latin America Regional Associate with the International Drug Policy Consortium and a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Jo-Marie Burt is an Associate Professor at George Mason University and also a WOLA Senior Fellow.