The most stormy political campaign in the recent history of Peru is going to have a fitting end. The school teacher Pedro Castillo won the elections this Thursday by a margin of only 63,000 votes, according to the almost final count. But his rival, Keiko Fujimori, has called for the cancellation of thousands of ballots, which could turn the result around. Both are preparing for a legal battle that could drag on for two weeks and further strain a country that has been fractured by the polarization generated by the election between two populist leaders.
Elections in Peru
The Peruvian electoral system carries out the counting with light and stenographers. The minutes can be consulted online. International observers congratulated the country for organizing the voting day. The count was very tight, heart attack. The matter was to be resolved by half a point. The quick count published as soon as the polls closed nailed the final result. The two candidates assured that they would respect the result when the time came and even signed public democratic commitments in the face of the doubts they generated. Each one for different reasons. Castillo for being attached to a declared Marxist-Leninist party and Fujimori for sometimes vindicating the authoritarian government of his father, Alberto Fujimori. At the breaking point, the victory at the Castillo polls, Keiko has requested the nullity of 800 polling stations, something unprecedented in the country’s democracy.
Fujimori has the backing of the most prestigious law firms in Lima, where the conservative candidate has received overwhelming support from the elites. The evidence of this alleged fraud does not, for the moment, live up to that reputation. He has presented cases of defect in a very minor way, such as that the signature of a table manager is not identical to that of his identity document or that there were three brothers in Puno in the same box, something prohibited by law. The identity of those three people was revealed. The three have assured that they are not family and that in the place where they live there are hundreds of people with the same last name. Fake videos and photos circulating on the internet have also been presented as evidence of a conspiracy hatched by Castillo’s party – a chaotic and improvised regional formation whose hierarchy is unclear. Electoral experts consulted by this newspaper, such as Fernando Tuesta, former head of the National Office of Electoral Processes, considers that there are no indications that fraud has occurred.
The annulment of those votes that Fujimori demands would mean annulling the will of entire areas, the poorest and most remote from Lima, that have supported the candidate. The conservative candidate appeals as proof that in some of those places she has obtained zero votes. There Castillo, who has campaigned with a speech against the elites, has devastated. In some regions it has touched 90%. It has become clear that Fujimorism has very little impact in the south of the country. The National Elections Jury, the last organ of a very guaranteeing system, which delays the count, will have the last word on a process that has already begun and that, according to experts, could take two weeks.
Castillo, for his part, has the advice of two prestigious former attorneys, Julio Arbizu and Ronald Gamarra. In his day they persecuted Fujimori Sr. and his main adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos. They are both in prison today. Castillo has been congratulated on his triumph by the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, and other former left-wing leaders of Latin America, such as Lula Da Silva or Dilma Rousseff. “I would like to greet the political leaders who came to tell me ‘how good that the people have woken up.’ This is the town that has made this reality at the polls on June 6, “he said from the balcony of his party’s headquarters in Lima, where he appears once a day to greet his followers. There are people coming from all over Peru.
Other leaders have not shared his victory with as much enthusiasm. Seventeen former Ibero-American presidents have requested through a statement that no candidate is declared the winner until challenges are resolved. Among the signatories are José María Aznar, Álvaro Uribe and Felipe Calderón, among others. They ask the candidates to help sustain citizen peace. That is the fear in the face of these two weeks of uncertainty, with the followers of both on the street and the tension on the rise.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.