Your Guide to What is on Offer at April's Elections

03 February 2011

Peruvian voters seem to have a strong preference for presidential candidates who only a few years previously they were delighted to see the back of. So it was that Fernando Belaúnde returned in 1980, following his dismal showing as president in the 1960s. Then Alan García was given a second go at being president in 2006, having been roundly condemned as one of Peru’s worst presidents when his first term ended in 1990. Now, it would seem, Alejandro Toledo is staging a come-back, having been one of Latin America’s least popular presidents for most of his previous term (2001-06), with his approval ratings seldom above single-digit level.

With only just over two months to go to the 2011 presidential contest, Toledo seems to be edging ahead of the rest – if, that is, opinion polls are to be believed. Toledo is seeking to portray himself as decidedly centrist: maintaining García’s investor-friendly economic strategy while seeking to do a bit more than García in the area of political and social reform. These are the tactics of the ‘mal menor’ (the lesser of two evils), since the election is likely to go to a second round, and Toledo will be able to rally support on the left or right, depending on who goes through to the second round with him.

Of the initial front-runners, the candidate who seems to be dropping out of the running is Luis Castañeda Lossio. His previous record as mayor of Lima is coming under close scrutiny, particularly allegations of corruption and mismanagement of municipal investment schemes. The unexpected victory of Susana Villarán in last November’s municipal elections has exposed Castañeda’s record in ways that would not have been the case if Lourdes Flores (his erstwhile ally) had made it instead. Castañeda has slipped from number one to number three in the polls, and will fall further if corruption charges are substantiated.

Support for Keiko Fujimori seems to be holding up better than for Castañeda. The Fujimori brand-name maintains a high degree of customer loyalty among lower-income groups. There is a certain nostalgia for the ‘no-nonsense’ authoritarianism of her father, not least given the lack of citizen security that pervades Peruvian cities beyond their middle-class hubs. But Fujimori has surrounded herself with people who enjoy little public confidence, particularly on matters such as human and civil rights.

Outside the top three, the next-in-line is Ollanta Humala. Like Keiko Fujimori, Humala’s support is hard to quantify. In all probability, the opinion polls understate his support. In 2006, when he won more votes than any other candidate, Humala’s vote was concentrated in the Andes and the Amazon jungle regions, particularly in rural areas where pollsters are reluctant to go. However, unlike 2006, he cannot pretend to be an ‘outsider’. A number of prominent leftists have joined Humala’s cause, which will add to his momentum. However, his programme is notably less radical than in 2006.

Some candidates have backed out at the last minute. Most notable is Mercedes Aráoz, an independent handpicked by Alan García, to run as the APRA candidate, much to the annoyance of other party leaders. In the end, when she failed to get her way in keeping Jorge del Castillo -- the former prime minister – off the party list for the legislature, she declined to run. This is not good news for APRA, but probably a source of satisfaction to García. He has made no secret of his desire to return as president in 2016, and does not want to see alternative candidates emerging who might eventually challenge him.

And then come Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros. PPK, as he known, supported by the right-wing Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC), is the quintessentially ‘business’ candidate. Despite the advantages of money, the appeal of this ex-New York banker, ex-energy minister, ex-prime minister is limited beyond certain affluent neighbourhoods in Lima. Rodríguez Cuadros, ex-diplomat and ex-foreign minister and now candidate for Villarán’s centre-left Fuerza Social, is finding it hard to establish a space and is likely to be squeezed out by Toledo’s well-funded campaign.

The rest, it would seem, are no-hopers.


Party or Alliance Presidential Candidate Vice Presidencies Ideology / Programme
Rafael Belaúnde Sixto Vilcas, Luis Destefano  Centre-right

Alianza por el Gran Cambio Pedro Pablo Kuczynski  Máximo San Román, Maria Pérez Tello Right-wing/business  
Despertar Nacional  Ricardo Noriega Martina Portocarrero, Roberto Villar Pro-Sendero
Fonavistas del Perú   Nique de la Puente Andres Alcantara  Single issue
Fuerza 2011 Keiko Fujimori  Rafael Rey, Jaime Yoshiyama  Right-wing/authoritarian
Fuerza Nacional   Juliana Reymer Rodríguez  Julio Macedo, Sergio Gallardo  Centre-right
Fuerza Social   Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros Vladimiro Huaroc, Elva Quiñones Centre-left
Gana Perú Ollanta Humala Marisol Espinoza, Omar Chehade Left/nationalist
Justicia, Tecnología, Ecología Humberto Pinazo Wilson Barrantes, Victor Gião  ?
Partido Aprista Peruano No candidate No candidate Centre-right/populist
Perú Posible Alejandro Toledo Carlos Bruce, Javier Reategui Centre/centre-right
Solidaridad Nacional Luis Castañeda Lossio Augusto Ferreiro, Carmen Rosa Nuñez Centre-right


Note: Alianza por el Gran Cambio comprises Alianza por el Progreso, Partido Humanista Peruano, Partido Popular Cristiano and Resauración Nacional. Solidaridad Nacional includes Solidaridad Nacional, Unión por el Perú, Siempre Unidos, Todos por el Peru and Cambio 90. Perú Posible includes Peru Posible, Somos Perú and Acción Popular

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