Ollanta Humala, a left-wing nationalist, has won the presidency of Peru. He obtained a narrow margin, probably four or five percentage points, over his contender, Keiko Fujimori (the final official count was not available at the time of writing). As I suggested in a previous post, Keiko Fujimori, a right-wing populist and the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, ran with the goal of freeing dad and dad’s buddies from prison, where they presently spend their days on charges ranging from large-scale thievery to murder. Many Peruvians feared, myself included, that electing Keiko would be tantamount to transferring these criminals from their cells to the offices of government. For at least the next five years, the duration of Humala’s future administration, this will not happen. For now, Peru has avoided the embarrassment of legitimizing, via the popular vote, one of the worse banana republic dictatorships in Latin America.
The future with Humala is uncertain. Throughout the campaign, he was accused, again and again, of “Chavismo,” of being but a sidekick to Hugo Chavez, bent on applying the obsolete and even ridiculous Chavista template to Peru. To counter this notion, Humala, dramatically and operatically, swore on the bible to scrupulously follow not Chavez’s but Lula’s steps, promising to actually strengthen the market with private as well as with state-oriented investment, while also building programs to increase redistribution of wealth.
No one realistically expects a Brazilian miracle in Peru within the next five years. But in a deeply polarized country, with an already large and zealous right-wing opposition, Humala has no choice but to fulfill his moderate, market-oriented promises. It is likely, therefore, that the economic growth that Peru has been experiencing in the past decade will continue, perhaps after an initial period of internal market speculation and attendant problems such as devaluation and an increase of investment risk indexes.
A couple of reflections
To be very schematic, two left wings seem to be emerging in Latin America. On the one hand, there is the old-guard, populist, anti-imperialist, caudillo-dependent, big-government-oriented left wing headed by Chavez (“capitalism may have ended life on Mars”). On the other . . .
Read more: Elections in Peru, the Runoff