Apathy and protest votes in Lima elections

25 November 2013

Elections to Lima’s Municipal Council have left the mayor with a weaker base than any of her predecessors. The 24 November vote reduced incumbent Susana Villarán’s Fuerza Social bloc to from 21 to 3 seats.

The centre-left Villarán narrowly held onto her post in a March recall referendum that was triggered by her political opponents, after a marginal victory in 2010. As well as her own grouping, Villarán enjoys the support of two councillors in the Tierra y Dignidad party, but commentators said she will now have to seek consensus with other parties in order to push projects through. High on the municipal agenda are concerns about crime and public safety.

The conservative Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC) emerged dominant with 30 per cent of the vote and 17 out of 39 seats, but failed to win a majority. Leader Lourdes Flores promised conditional support for the mayor. Somos Perú came second, increasing its councillors from just one to seven, while Perú Posible and Siempre Unidos won three seats each.

A recent survey has confirmed low levels of confidence among Peruvians in their country’s democracy, and the municipal elections were marked by apathy. Though voting is compulsory and non-participation incurs a fine, 19 per cent of Lima residents did not vote. 23 per cent of ballots were spoiled or blank.

Analyst Julio César Castiglioni, speaking to La República, blamed the parties for failing to campaign effectively, as well as electoral institutions, which he said had not done enough to provide timely information on the implications of the election to potential voters.

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