Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

No Clear Leader in Peru’s Presidential Race

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 29, 2011

by Roque Planas for Americas Society / Council of the Americas, March 25th, 2011.

With a couple of weeks to go before Peruvians head to the polls to elect their next president, new polls fail to indicate a clear frontrunner. Former President Alejandro Toledo led by a comfortable margin until his poll numbers began to dip on March 20. While Toledo never secured enough support to avoid a runoff election, his slipping lead makes Peru’s presidential race highly uncertain. According to Alfredo Torres, executive director of pollster Ipsos Apoyo, at this point any of the five leading candidates could break into the runoff election. The first round takes place April 10. Should no candidate snatch up more than 50 percent of the vote, a second round will take place on June 5.

Alejandro Toledo, who served as president from 2001 to 2006 and is the Peru Posible candidate, plays to Peru’s political center. Beginning his working life as a shoeshiner and in other informal jobs, Toledo rose from poverty to become a Stanford PhD-holding economist. His election as the first indigenous president in a country with an indigenous population of 45 percent symbolized a milestone in Peru’s struggle against racism. Toledo proposes to invest heavily in infrastructure and education, while increasing Peru’s agricultural exports and developing value-added products for the international market. Referring to poverty as “an economic, cultural, and ethical problem,” he hopes to eliminate extreme levels of it through the expansion of Juntos, a cash-transfer program inaugurated in 2005 by his prior administration.

Ollanta Humala of the Peruvian Nationalist Party appears to have benefitted most from Toledo’s drop in popularity, according to two recent polls. As Toledo slipped from 28 to 23 percent, Ipsos Apoyo found that Humala hopped forward one percentage point to place third, with 17 percent. The Datum poll puts Humala in second place, with 18.5 percent. A self-described nationalist, Humala eschews the political categories of “right” and “left,” though most observers view him as a leftwing. In an interview with journalist Paul Alonso, Humala described his economic philosophy as “the firm commitment of the state to its national industries, the construction of national economic groups, the maintenance of national ownership of natural resources, including subsoil rights.” (continue reading… )

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