And they're off, again...
24 April 2016
Two weeks after the 10 April first-round elections, the battle for the second round (on 5 June) is now well under way, with all the razzmatazz of public meetings, mud-slinging and (of course) opinion polls.
So far as the third of these is concerned, it promises to be a tight race between Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Peru por el Kambio, PPK) and Keiko Fujimori. Three polls put them neck and neck.
Ipsos (conducted 13-16 April) put Kuczynski on 44% and Fujimori on 40%. 10% said they would vote null or void, and 6% did not provide an answer
CPI (conducted 15-17 April) was the only one to put Fujimori ahead (with 43.6%) to Kuczynski’s 41.5%. It had 9.1% saying they would vote null or void, and 5.8% not giving an answer.
Datum (conducted 15-18 April) put Kuczynski slightly ahead on 41.1% to Fujimori’s 40.4%. It had 8.6% saying they would vote null or void, and 9.9% of respondents declined to respond.
On the face of it, Fujimori will have an easier task of raising her vote from just under 40% in the first round to the 50% plus one required to win on the second. Kuczynski will have to pull his vote up much further. He won only 21% on the first round.
The second round poses awkward questions for the Frente Amplio in deciding on the position to take in the second round. While making it clear that she considers Fujimori the worst option (‘el mal peor’) Mendoza has stopped short of urging people to vote for Kuczynski as the lesser of two evils (‘el mal menor’). The Frente Amplio has scheduled a special meeting this weekend to discuss the issue. For many on the left, the policies that Kuczynski would follow would differ little than those of Fujimori.
In practice, unsuccessful candidates from the first round have little influence in recommending how their first-round voters should cast their ballots in the second.
Whoever wins the second round will have to work with an absolute majority of Fujimoristas in the Congress. The ONPE, the body that administers elections and the count, still has to publish the final tally of how the Congress would be composed, but it seems likely that (of a total 130 seats), Fujimoristas would occupy 73, the Frente Amplio 20, Peru por el Kambio 18, the Alianza por el Progreso (Acuña’s party) 9, APRA 5 and Acción Popular 5.
Even if successful, Kuczynski would thus have little option but to look for an accommodation with the Fujimori benches in order to pass legislation. This would push him further to the right, meaning that it will fall to the Frente Amplio to be the main voice of opposition. An alliance with Kuczynski for the first round as the ‘mal menor’ might therefore make little sense. For an interesting discussion of the policy of alliances, see http://larepublica.pe/impresa/opinion/761609-la-izquierda-y-ppk
Meanwhile, both Fujimori and Kuczynski have found themselves locked in a battle on law and order matters. Fujimori has appeared to have the edge in recommending drastic measures. She has promised to introduce the death penalty for some crimes. She has also promised to bring back the so-called 24x24 by which policemen were allowed to work for private policing missions in their spare time. Kuczynski, for his part, has promised tougher penalties for those convicted for corruption.