The battle for the 12%

16 May 2016

With only twenty days to go to the second round vote, it is still not clear who will finally win the presidential elections. On 13 May pollsters CPI gave Keiko Fujimori a five-point lead in their latest poll. On 15 May, Ipsos-Apoyo had them neck-to-neck at 44.1% to 43.8%, with 12.1% still undecided. Irrespective of which poll provides a better reflection of reality, these are the 12% that Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski need to convince.

The last three weeks will therefore be crucial to breaking the deadlock, and both candidates will do everything they can to convince those who have yet to make up their minds . This means capturing the vote of all the other candidates who did not make it to the second round; most were further to the left than the two candidates still in play.

For those whom the prospect of a return to power of the Fujimoris is unthinkable, the decision has been easy; they have backed Kuczynski without question. This is what has catapulted him to a virtual tie with Keiko Fujimori. But it has not been enough to give him the edge. Many on the left resent the way their candidate, Verónika Mendoza, was portrayed by those in his camp. They also consider that his economic policies will be indistinguishable from those of his rival. Those who cannot see the difference between them are either sitting on the fence or busy promoting a blank vote.

Meanwhile, Fujimori has continued to portray herself as the candidate ‘of order’ bringing back into play topics such as the death penalty, the use of the army for policing work, as well as the controversial 24x24 which allows policemen to work for 24 four hours straight. She has brought order to her party and has built alliances with key figures around the country.

One of the most outspoken has been the leader of the Awajun-Wampi, Santiago Maunin, who has decided to back Fujimori because he cannot support the group that has as its vice-presidential candidate Mercedes Flores Araóz whom they consider responsible for the tragic events at Bagua in 2009 when several people from this group, as well as many policemen, were killed. However, the Awajun-Wampi are not all in agreement about supporting Fujimori, and they have stated that their council has noted this is just Maunin’s personal view and that they have not made up their mind yet as to whom to support in the second round.

Keiko has also sought the support of illegal miners and various questionable political operators, and she has refused to enter into a debate with Kuczynski in Arequipa.

Many perceive Kuczynski’s campaign being inept and lacking in ideas, but they are still willing to support him because they consider Keiko so much worse. This is the case of the collective known as ‘No a Keiko’ who has penned this document of support this week They call for a ‘critical vote’, one that is not as much for Kuczynski as against Keiko. The collective has called for the next mass mobilization against her to take place on 31 May.

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