Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Lima’s Close Mayoral Race

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 4, 2010

by Naomi Mapstone for Americas Quarterly Online, October 4th, 2010.

Susana Villarán appears to have squeaked into Lima’s mayorship with the narrowest of margins, amid fearmongering that the human rights activist could be a “trojan horse” for radical leftists. Villarán, a moderate, will be Lima’s first leftist mayor since 1983, and the first elected female mayor in five centuries.

With 58.4 percent of the votes counted, Villarán had 38.95 percent, compared with Lourdes Flores, a lawyer and two-time presidential candidate, who secured 36.85 percent. Fernando Tuesta, a respected pollster at Lima’s Catholic University, told Peruvian daily La Republica the margin giving Villarán a victory, although small, was almost certain to stick.

With Peru’s economy bouncing back strongly from last year’s global recession, Lima is benefiting from a boom in construction, strong inflows of foreign direct investment and the rapid growth of a new middle class. Yet poverty remains a blight in Lima, where a quarter of its 8 million inhabitants still lack basic services such as running water and sewage.

Having lived through the bloody Maoist inspired Shining Path insurgency, many Peruvians are understandably fearful of the radical left. Ms. Villarán has taken great pains to paint herself as a gentler, kinder, verging on capitalist lefty in the mould of Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or Chile’s Michelle Bachelet. She deliberately distanced herself from the region’s best-known firebrand, Hugo Chávez, and Peru’s Ollanta Humala, who narrowly lost to president Alan García in 2006. (continue reading… )

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