Can Fujimorismo change its spots?
7 February 2016
Writing in Saturday’s El Comercio, the political analyst Carlos Meléndez strikes a sceptical note about the much-vaunted shift in the nature of Fujimorismo following on from Keiko Fujimori’s well publicised address at Harvard University last autumn. Her remarks were widely interpreted as an attempt to distance herself from the authoritarian image of her father, former president Alberto Fujimori. Since then there has been a ‘mea culpa’ side to her political discourse designed to reduce the numbers clearly hostile to the return of the Fujimori brand. This policy appears to have had some success. Those consulted by pollsters who say they would never vote for Keiko have declined somewhat in the last few months.
Meléndez, however, argues that to understand fujimorismo we have to understand what it represents to the fujimorista electorate. Here he detects far less change, hinting that the Harvard-talk is cosmetic. The fujimoristas have not changed their spots, he says. They “continue within a 1990s mental framework, thanks in large part to threats to citizen security (...) Keiko Fujimori appears trapped as the political representative of a social majority [whose views} contradict her discursive advances”. The demand for authoritarian solutions to current problems is evident among these voters, he says, an electorate keen to defend the sort of anti-institutional behaviour associated with Alberto Fujimori’s rule. Is Keiko capable of transforming this social base into something more democratic? Meléndez seems to think not.