The battle for control of the Fujimori legacy is in full swing. It takes the form of whether or not Kenji Fujimori, son of former president Alberto Fujimori, is expelled from Fuerza Popular (FP) by his sister (possibly to form another party) or whether there is some sort of truce or reconciliation between the two siblings that avoids a definitive party split.
The outcome will have significance for whether President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski can hobble along for the time being without being ousted.
Kenji is in a minority in FP, and it is unclear whether, if pushed out of the party, how many FP members of Congress would go with him. He was accompanied by nine others in the December vote that saved Kuzcynski from impeachment. But there may be more, given Kenji’s success in defending his father and securing his release from jail.
Keiko too faces difficulties.
Firstly, the division of FP into two separate groupings would be electorally damaging with municipal and regional elections coming up in October. These could become a battle royal to see which of the two siblings manages to exercise control over the party apparatus. Longer term, and more importantly, it could pit themselves in overt competition for the presidency in 2021, thereby reducing chances of FP victory.
Secondly, and more immediately, Jorge Barata’s evidence (due in February) could badly wound Keiko. If he shows that Odebrecht handed money over the Keiko in 2011 (which she denies), and if that leads to proceedings against her, it could seriously derail her political future. Ollanta Humala, the former president, is currently in prison, pending further investigation into exactly the same accusation. There would be a strong argument for Keiko receiving the same treatment.
The division of Fujimorismo has little or nothing to do with ideology or policy, but everything to do with the battle for power and influence. As Augusto Alvarez Rodrich has argued, it centres on four things: (i) control over FP as an organisation, (ii) who decides Kuczynski’s future, (iii) the divvying up of candidacies in the October election, and (iv) who is finally selected as FP presidential candidate in 2021.
The calculation as to whether Kenji or Keiko comes out on top is likely to determine how those involved in FP at different levels decide on which side to stake their bets.