Second round to be disputed by right-leaning candidates

17 April 2016

On 10 April, Peruvians went to the polls and voted in favour of right-leaning candidates Keiko Fujimori (KF) and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). Third in the run-off was left-leading congresswoman for Cuzco, Verónika Mendoza (VM). The highest percentage of votes went, however, to blank and spoilt ballots and absentees. (Note that in Peru voting is compulsory). As these are not counted, the percentages (after 99.94% of the votes processed) of the winners are inflated, leading KF to achieve 40%, PPK 21% and VM 19% of the valid votes, forcing a run-off between the two first candidates, which will take place on 5 June. Full results, which are continuously updated, can be seen on the ONPE website:

As in all previous elections, the left did particularly well in the south of the country, winning outright all the provinces in that region with the exception of Arequipa. There, rural areas voted predominantly for the left, but the demographic weight of the city of Arequipa ensured that PPK carried the whole department. VM narrowly missed the runoff, because more than a third of the department of Cajamarca voted for jailed regional president Gregorio Santos (see story here). This is an indictment of mining, as Santos opposes the large projects and these results show that most of the people in his department agree with him. The rest of the country voted predominantly for KF who had campaigned tirelessly since her defeat to Ollanta Humala in 2011.

Much of the analysis of the election has surrounded the importance of the urban vote in comparison to the vote of the south, where VM was stronger. In spite of having a bigger spread of the vote, many of the regions in the south do not have as many voters as the large cities where PPK and KF have done better. This presents a series of problems for PPK at the run-off. Although KF faces steep opposition and a very large number of people who would never vote for her, she only needs to make a small gain in votes to win. PPK instead has to connect with the voters of the left, as well as with the rural voters from the south that have never supported any candidate perceived as being on the right.

This second round of elections is in effect a completely new election, where all the assumptions of the first round are abandoned. This first week has not seen much action while news of the composition of Congress has emerged. Following on from the latest polling information, Fuerza Popular has taken the majority with 68 seats. Tied in second are Frente Amplio and Peruanos Por el Kambio with 20 members of Congress each. Cesar Acuña’s party Alianza para el Progreso, which did not field a presidential candidate, has twelve, whilst APRA and Acción Popular each have five. This means that the Fujimoristas will have the majority.

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