Sunday, June 20

Election results: Peru: won the clamor for change | Opinion

Supporters of Pedro Castillo while waiting for the electoral results, in Lima.
Supporters of Pedro Castillo while waiting for the electoral results, in Lima.Stringer / EFE

Although there is still no official result, the calculation is conclusive and indicates that Pedro Castillo would assume the presidency on July 28, the day that will commemorate the bicentennial of Peru’s independence. Thus, there would be the extraordinary symbolism of having as head of state a man from the Andes, of humble origin and who has come forward facing poverty and adversity. Someone who wears a poncho to plow with his oxen in his small Andean town, Puña – just over 400 inhabitants and 90 homes – in Chota, Cajamarca.

The triumph of Pedro Castillo in the Peruvian presidential elections is almost a fact. At the time of this writing, 100% of the voting tables have been processed, yielding an advantage in favor of Castillo of 50.17% against 49.82% of Fujimori.

While the final results seem to be clear, Fujimorism is not resigned and seeks to defer Castillo’s proclamation. It has put into operation, for this, very expensive Lima law firms seeking the nullity of 200,000 votes at 800 polling stations. The legal norm is restrictive and demanding regarding these resources; Furthermore, the alleged facts will hardly produce that result, but they will delay the official proclamation due to the chronic inability of a candidate to recognize the electoral results.

Three observations stand out now.

First, a great bell has sounded from the always excluded and marginalized. It is what marks the essence of the final result. It stands out as the background of a divided country in which the historical exclusion of the indigenous and the gap, also historical, between the coast (Lima, in particular) and the Andes are combined. Castillo’s vote was massive and overwhelming in the Andean highlands, just as Ms. Fujimori’s vote prevailed only in Lima and in some coastal cities.

Second, the alleged threat of a “communist” dictatorship by Castillo was ignored. Grievances of that nature against anyone proposing changes have been so recurrent that people don’t buy them. The Peruvian people are not socialists – let alone communists – nor do they sympathize with Maduro or know who Kim Jong Un is. Despite this, and a massive and millionaire advertising campaign, which included animated street panels announcing a future of “rafters” fleeing from Peru, as in Cuba.

Those who voted for Castillo are above all people who did so for change and against chronic exclusion. They did not vote for communism. If in an unthinkable step Castillo wanted to march in that direction, the agenda of a Congress in which the movement for which Castillo nominated will be in the minority would be very different.

In this context, it is very interesting that the most important business association – CONFIEP – whose directive and temperament, has distanced itself from the extreme loudness of a sector, has spoken out for the “full respect” of the electoral results and for building “a climate of social peace that allows us to focus on getting ahead “.

Third, great paradox: authoritarianism during the campaign. That it did not come from the side of the supposed “communist” but from the opposite. From the million-dollar campaigns sowing terror to the extremely biased management of the major print and television media. The political scientist Alberto Vergara describes it with precision in a recent note in The New York Times: “Above all television exhibited a bias typical of authoritarian regimes”. In a recent IEP poll, 6 out of 10 Peruvians agreed that the media favored a candidacy in the campaign.

The Ethics Court of the Peruvian Press Council, which I preside, has questioned several of these large media for the violation of objectivity and balance “… during the electoral process by various media revealed in: front pages and headlines that they did not accurately reflect the events that occurred; the presentation of interested opinions covered as impartial analysis; and unequal coverage of the activities of the presidential candidacies, in time and space, despite the fact that they were rallies and events of similar importance ”.

Forward, several challenges arise, among which one immediate and another more in-depth stand out.

The first is that of governance. The context is that of an extremely bristly and polarized country. An eventual government of Castillo will not have a parliamentary majority; or even a powerful faction. This is an immense and fundamental task in which an unavoidable emergency plan in the face of the health and economic crisis could be a factor of articulation, with a great call for immediate action. The ability or not to arrange for this will put everyone to the test.

In recent weeks Castillo has been aiming to strengthen its technical teams, which would point to the structuring of an indispensable nucleus of efficient management, given the immensity of the task and the complexity of the moldy Peruvian state. In this area, for example, the immediate reinforcement of the vaccination campaign – which is going well – and of national capacities in the health area is an immediate challenge that could be faced very well.

The second challenge is more in depth and projection. It has to do with the translation into concrete policies of the massive demand for change. In essence, strategies to confront social and ethnic exclusion, affirming, along with it, growth and job creation. It has to do, of course, with a reconceptualization of the reform of the State and much more.

The Peruvian fiscal context is more favorable than in the rest of the region. Being a country whose tax revenues derive in large part from mining exports, current prices promise significant revenues, even without changing the current tax regulations for the time being.

There is therefore an immediate option to reinforce public investment with important social effects. To the extent, by the way, that conditions such as greater efficiency in the execution of spending are met, as well as preventive control and social support against the threat of corruption.

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