And what is Fujimorismo today?
1 May 2016
The electoral advance of the Fuerza Popular in the 10 April elections raises the question – a key topic in the ongoing fight for the presidency – as to what Fujimorismo is 16 years on from the collapse of the regime of Alberto Fujimori in 2000.
The two faces of Fujimorismo appear to be represented in the shape of Fujimori’s son and daughter, Kenji and Keiko. The differences between them became obvious last week as Kenji (who received more congressional votes than any other candidate) promised he would be the candidate in 2021.
Kenji is the figurehead of what is sometimes called ‘Albertismo’, a current that closely identifies with the jailed former president and his leading lieutenants. This harks back to the supposed ‘glory days’ of the Fujimori years when Alberto Fujimori supposedly saved Peru from the twin scourges of hyperinflation and civil war. With Kenji and his supporters, there is no hint of an apology for the human rights crimes and corruption for which Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence. The Fujimori regime was based on a close alliance between the most conservative forces in Peruvian society, including the armed forces and the kingpins of the business community. Fujimori’s regime commanded significant voter support, rallying people around the deep unpopularity of the so-called ‘partidocracia’, the party elite, which it argued had led Peru to the brink of disaster.
Keiko represents a rather different approach. Since her narrow election defeat in 2011, she has sought to build a political party, something which her father resolutely refused to do. She also realised that if she wanted to win a presidential election she needed to distance herself from her father’s legacy and build more appeal to a wide range of voters. To this end, she consciously dropped from the Fuerza Popular’s list for Congress some of those figures (like Martha Chávez and María Luisa Cuculiza) who were seen as her father’s most loyal admirers. On a number of occasions during the recent campaign, she admitted some of the ‘mistakes’ which she felt that her father’s government had committed. She had some success in attracting to her side people who had stood previously under different banners, and not all of them on the right.
But how different are they in practice? Time will surely tell. Probably the differences are not really as deep as they may appear. It is convenient for the Fujimorista cause to have two wings, each headed by someone with the right surname. It helps bring new supporters within the fold without alienating the Fujimori stalwarts.
21st century Fujimorismo may not be a carbon copy of its 20th century predecessor. But what remains clear is that Fujimorismo is a deeply conservative force in Peruvian politics that seeks to legitimise itself by harking back to the 1990s and the victories over ‘terrorism’ and economic chaos. Its role in a future government will, of course, be defined, at least in large part, by the pressures it comes under if it wins the presidential election. Yet, at the same time, there is a high probability that it will base itself on and privilege the same sort of alliance as in the past: the security forces, big business and (very possibly) the most conservative elements of the Church hierarchy, claiming at the same time a democratic electoral mandate on the basis of votes attracted.