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Peru - 2016 Elections

On 10 April 2016, Peruvians went to the polls to elect a new President and Representatives to the 130-seat Congress. Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, joined a list of other candidates including former President Alan Garcia and former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kucznyski vying for the presidency. If no candidate garnered 50 percent plus one, a second round would take place.

Drug cartels could soon have even more formidable power in Peru, where an there are a number of “narco-candidates” running for office, including for president, in the country’s April 2016 general elections that puts the South American country at risk of becoming a narco-state.

“Narco-candidates are supported, financed by drug trafficking bosses, and narco-businessmen have also started becoming candidates,” Peruvian sociologist Jaime Antezana told teleSUR on 4 March 2016. “So there are candidates that come directly from drug trafficking and money laundering, as well as candidates who are politicians who are being financed by cartels.”

“In the case of Popular Force, half of the narco-candidates are people that are linked directly to the business,” Antezana explained. “They are traffickers and money launderers, but they pass as if they were successful business people, entrepreneurs.”

On 04 March 2016 the Special Jury of Elections, which approves presidential tickets, barred presidential hopeful Cesar Acuna, a wealthy former governor, from the April 2016 elections because of vote-buying allegations. It also moved toward disqualifying likely runoff contender Julio Guzman, a centrist economist, in a surprise decision that could turn the race on its head. The National Jury of Elections can overrule the decisions made Friday by a lower electoral panel.

Guzman, seen by polls as tying front-runner Keiko Fujimori in a likely June runoff, was allowed to stay in the race 24 February 2016 after he fulfilled a series of technical requirements related to his party's registration. But those same technicalities were cited by in accepting a citizen's petition to declare Guzman's candidacy "inadmissible".

Peru’s presidential race was officially down by two more candidates just a month ahead of voting day, electoral authorities definitively ruling 09 March 2016 that presidential hopefuls Julio Guzman and Cesar Acuña were not allowed to run. That decision helped current poll-leader Keiko Fujimori.

A Gfk poll in early March 2016 published by the Peruvian daily La Republica showed Fujimori leading with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Guzman with 16 percent, former Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with 7 percent, writer Alfredo Barnechea with 5 percent, and former two-time President Alan Garcia with 4 percent. Acuña dropped out of the top five after polling in fourth place last month.

The head of the Organization of American States criticized Peru's elections 01 April 2016, suggesting they would not be fully democratic if steps were not taken to ensure all candidates can participate. The comments follow the electoral board's barring of two leading presidential hopefuls last month in an unprecedented move that many consider unfair. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, said Peru needed to avoid "semi-democratic elections."

Repeated political attacks on Peru’s left-wing presidential hopeful Veronika Mendoza may have actually helped the candidate advance in the polls and secure a spot tied for second place, according to the analysis of a local pollster reported 02 April 2016 by Peru’s La Republica. The leftist presidential candidate had promised to strengthen labor rights, tighten oversight on mining operations, and write a new constitution to combat inequality. Throughout her campaign, Mendoza’s progressive platform including rewriting the country’s dictatorship-era constitution has been smeared as “anti-mining” and “Chavista,” criticizing her for following the example of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. She has also been called a “terrorist.” But the candidate surged in the polls unlike any other, catapulting into a tie for second place with IMF and World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski just over a week ahead of the April 10 election.

A runoff scenario between Fujimori and Kuczynski would see a win for the frontrunner by a margin of 41 to 37.8 percent, while a race between Fujimori and Mendoza would be virtually the same at 41.7 to 37.4 percent, according to the Gfk poll.

Close to 23 million Peruvians headed to the polls to cast their ballots between 8:00 a.m. local time and 4:00 p.m. to vote for one president, two vice presidents, 130 Congress people and five Andean Parliament members in elections that have been shadowed by reports of candidates being linked to corruption, drug trafficking or obscures pasts. The true electoral battle, however, was not on presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori but among leftist Veronika Mendoza and Pedro Kucynski. Veronika Mendoza had not been linked to any wrongdoing and had been surging in the polls. Right-wing former Wall Street economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was mixed up in the Panama Papers scandal.

The center-right politician won nearly 40 percent of the votes counted. Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski received about 24 percent of the votes. Nationalist Veronika Mendoza was in third with about 17 percent. Fujimori faced a runoff election against the second-place winner on 05 June 2016.

The election pit the Fujimori family's brand of conservative populism against Kuczynski's elite background and stiff technocratic style that curbed his appeal in poor provinces and working-class districts. The two candidates, who were virtually tied in pre-election polling, largely offer continuity with the current neoliberal system and are both right-of-center. Their platforms offer similar plans for reducing poverty and crime while boosting development and tourism. Fujimori's slight lead over Kuczynski melted away in the days before the election, evoking memories of her close defeat to outgoing President Ollanta Humala in 2011.

With 36 percent of voting acts counted on 05 June 2016, Peru's electoral authoritie said Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had 50.6 of the votes cast Sunday, compared with 49.4 percent for his rival Keiko Fujimori. Two quick counts by local pollsters showed Kuczynski winning by around 1 percentage point, which was still within their margin of error. Kuczynski had 50.59 percent of the vote against 49.41 percent for Fujimori, with 52 percent of votes counted. With 91 percent of all votes counted on 07 June 2016, Kuczynski had 50.32 percent support while Fujimori trailed on 49.68 percent. The gap narrowed from a previous tally.

On 07 June 2016 Mariano Cucho, the head of ONPE, urged Peruvians to wait "with calm and prudence" for the final results. Ballots from voters living abroad had not been counted. Making up 3.86 percent of the electorate, foreign-based voters mostly live in the United States where Kuczynski stumped for votes at the start of his second-round campaign. These votes from Peru's embassies abroad could take days to trickle in. Ballots from some far-flung provinces also had yet to be counted, including in the southern Andes where Kuczynski swept up support and in sparsely-populated jungle regions where Fujimori is popular.

Peruvian economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will be the next president of Peru, the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) confirmed at 4 p.m. the afternoon of 09 June 2016. After a long four-day count, Kuczynski, from the Peruvians for Change (PPK), edged out his rival Keiko Fujimori, from Popular Force, with a wafer-thin margin, winning by 50.117 percent to 49.883 percent. This tight presidential contest was the closest in 25 years in Peru, with over 18.5 million Peruvians having voted.

Kuczynski will have to reckon with a solid majority of Fujimori's party in Congress and a leftist alliance that has promised not to align with either of them.

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Page last modified: 10-06-2016 19:32:23 ZULU