The five main candidates in Peru’s presidential election, to be held on Sunday, met in Lima yesterday for a debate that focused largely on economic and social issues. The participants included: Ollanta Humala (Gana Perú); Alejandro Toledo (Perú Posible); Keiko Fujimori (Fuerza 2011); Luis Castañeda (Solidaridad Nacional); and Pedro Pablo Kuzynski (Alianza por el Gran Cambio).
Kuzynski was described as being seemingly hesitant and Castañeda as lost in the mechanics of the debate. Former frontrunner Toledo aggressively went after his opponents for their perceived weaknesses. Toledo attacked Fujimori by saying that her father (former President Alberto Fujimori) left Peru in bad economic shape. Keiko had told voters she would continue the policies of her father, who is incarcerated for human rights violations. Humala, on the other hand, tried to strike a conciliatory tone and shake off allegations of perceived closeness to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Bolivian President Evo Morales. Humala presented himself as an alternative to Peru’s presidential administrations of the past 20 years.
Humala appears to have been the main beneficiary of yesterday’s debate. According to an Ipsos Apoyo poll released yesterday, support for Humala jumped to 26 percent of the electorate, up from 21 percent last week. Fujimori, Toledo and Kuzynski remain in a three-way statistical tie for second, while Castañeda trails in last place. If no single candidate garners 50 percent of the vote on April 10, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff in June.
A survey conducted by Ipsos Apoyo Opinion y Mercado, commissioned by Peru’s El Comercio, revealed today that Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori and Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda Lossio are tied at 20 percent of voter approval for Peru’s presidential election. Voters will go to the polls on April 10, 2011.
Castañeda is neck-in-neck with Fujimori despite him not yet officially declaring his candidacy. Meanwhile, Fujimori is often seen on the campaign trail.
Following the two front-runners are former President Alejandro Toledo (14 percent support) and Ollanta Humala (12 percent), who lost to President Alan García in a run-off election in 2006.
The poll also revealed that 50 percent of people support the investigation of Attorney General Gladys Echaiz to find out if Keiko and her brothers funded their U.S. university expenditures with state money. But 38 percent believe that the objective of the investigation is to discredit her.
You know it is election season in Peru when the number of public works projects (obras) increases so much that traffic comes to a virtual standstill. That’s how Lima is today ahead of the municipal and regional elections that will be held in October 2010. Much is at stake as the outcomes are a telltale sign for what may happen in next year’s presidential election
The massive display of obras during an election year is not uncommon. In fact, they are strategic. Visible projects—like the construction of an electric train and bus system in Lima—are displays of what the government has done for its people, and are often used as a form of propaganda by candidates running in incumbent seats. Closely following the Latin American tradition of populismo, incumbent candidates appeal to the masses through these obras. Yet, the use of public works projects as propaganda can pose risks too. Publicly displayed accomplishments might also expose the corruption associated with their construction.
Lima has a history of failed public works projects. During President Alan García’s first term (1985—1990) he invested in a national project to construct a Tren Electrico—a train system that would run through the city. However, the project was abandoned and some parts of the construction turned into artwork. At the same time President García was accused of rampant corruption and mismanagement of the project. Then after winning the presidency again in 2006, he promised to complete the project by the end of his term in 2011.