Post-election realignments

19 June 2016

No sooner than Pedro Pablo Kcuzynski had been confirmed as the winner of the 5 June second round, post-electoral realignments began to become clearer.

Keiko Fujimori took until the very end publicly to accept defeat, and so far has refused to visit Kuczynski, demanding a prior apology for the tone he adopted in the campaign. In his first interview, Kuczynski made a blanket apology and welcomed the idea of creating a consensus cabinet. Given Fuerza Popular’s (FP) large majority in Congress, he will need its cooperation. But this olive branch has apparently failed to appease Keiko.

Verónika Mendoza swiftly announced that the Frente Amplio (FA) would work together with the government in those areas it considered priority, but that it would not accept any ministries or be linked in any direct way with a Kuczynski administration.

Among the first issues to highlight the fissures between the FA and Kuczynski’s Peruanos Por el Kambio (PPK) party were the declarations of the incoming finance minister, Alfredo Thorne. He announced that the newly elected government would work to provide indigenous peoples with individual land titles so they could benefit more from large mining and oil projects. This has been a long cherished dream of liberals, harking back to the time of Simón Bolívar who wrote about turning Indians into ‘yeomen’, but it has so far never been implemented successfully. Such a policy would not be welcomed by the FA which would prefer communal indigenous property to be reaffirmed and communities to be guaranteed prior consultation.

Kuczynski also announced his intention to retain Jaime Saavedra as education minister. As we have previously reported in the newsletter, education has been area of success for the Humala administration and Saavedra has played a key role here. Although it remains to be seen if he will accept the offer, policy overall in this sector is unlikely to change.

Inevitably, calls for the freeing of Keiko’s father, the jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, have grown. Kuczynski has hinted at the possibility that he would consider allowing prisoners of a certain age to finish their sentences under house arrest, but many of those who supported him in the anti-Fujimori campaign and helped him clinch victory have made it abundantly clear that they do not find this acceptable.

Another important realignment has been among the Fujimoristas themselves. There has been much speculation over the reasons why Kenji Fujimori, Keiko’s brother, did not vote on 5 June. Staunch party members, such as Luisa María Cuculiza, have criticized him for not doing so. He has explained over Twitter that this was for “personal reasons” and that his sister is aware of what these are. There has been repeated speculation about an emerging rift between the two siblings, with Kenji saying he wants to be the candidate in 2021. Having lost twice, many think that Keiko is probably no longer the best option for the movement’s future. The coming months will make it clear how cohesive FP is and whether its 73 representatives in Congress will stick together.

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