Peru: What Lies Ahead

After a large initial field has been culled, voters are unhappy with their choices. This is Peru, where voters will cast a second-round ballot for President on 5 June 2016.

Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, is running against technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). So far, Keiko is running about 5 points ahead in the last May 2016 poll by Ipsos, despite ongoing investigations into money laundering and ties to drug trafficking organizations. On 19 May, Joaquín Ramírez, the Secretary General of Fujimori’s party, Fuerza Popular, stepped down amid revelations that he is being investigated for laundering money on behalf of Keiko.

Prior to the first-round vote, Peru’s Electoral Commission disqualified two candidates. Many believe they applied the rules selectively, barring the candidates just as they seemed to surge in polls, especially with regard to Julio Guzmán who was disqualified due to an irregularity in the internal party process of Todos Por el Perú that, in the JNE's view, delegitimized all subsequent decisions, including Guzmán's nomination. 

On 1 April 2016, Luis Almagro already described Peru’s election process as veering toward “semi-democratic,” and some analysts express a concern that the legitimacy of the system may become a question. In the first round, 18 percent cast a blank or null vote -- far higher than the regional average of 5 percent. For a president beginning with voter discontent, it may be harder to tackle economic issues that are exacerbated by low commodity prices, high levels of unemployment and informal employment, and slowing growth. 

Keiko Fujimori is counting on her father’s reputation as an apt manager of citizen security and the economy to buoy her candidacy, but her father was also the leader of an auto-golpe and is in prison for human rights violations. Yet, by all accounts, Keiko Fujimori is more charismatic, more energetic, and more forceful than economist Kuczynski - a difference visible in the last presidential debate on 22 May 2016. She would also have the backing of Congress, where Fujimorismo is the majority, and which will be led by her brother, Kenji, a less-skilled politician.

However, she is more vulnerable to ongoing allegations of corruption, and future allegations would come from the opposition in Congress. Considering the current panorama in Latin America (for example, Dilma Rousseff), if Keiko wins, any charges of impropriety have the potential to put extreme pressure on her personally. Keiko will likely be insulated from investigations during her tenure, as the Congress is held by a Fujimorista majority, but her post-presidential political career could be damaged by Congressional Commissions (similar to the "Narco-pardons" Commission against Alan García and the Ecoteva investigation against Alejandro Toledo).