Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Aqui estoy … con campana electoral

This Sunday is presidential election day in Peru. The whole time I’ve been here the news have been full of coverage of the candidates and the streets are full of posters, billboards, murals and stickers advertising them. (I tried counting them on my way to school today. I stopped after I got to 50 in less than 2 blocks) The campaign is somewhat different from that of the U.S., starting with the number of candidates. More than 10 took part in the debate I watched with my host mom, of which 5 are considered to have a good shot. In Peru, voting is obligatory and the two candidates with the highest percentages will go on the the segunda vuelta, second round, of voting in a run-off. Political parties are not as entrenched here but are more based around personalities, a particular candidate. In fact, many candidates use their initials in their party’s symbol.

Fun facts:

Presidential term is 5 years.

Presidents cannot immediately run for reelection but they can 5 years later. The current president, Garcia, is in his second term.

Inauguration day is also independence day: July 28

Corruption is a big issue. Many of the candidates are supposedly corrupt and many have a slogan of some sort that says they aren’t.

Personally, I think it’s good to have various options. However, I think the sheer amount of advertising is overwhelming and unnecessary. I’m looking forward to seeing Lima without billboards every 10 feet. Unfortunately, there is just as much mudslinging and attempting to undermine other candidates here as there is in the States. Which means, as you will see below, I know more about the arguments against each candidate than for them. It just seems to me that choosing the president (of any country) should not come down to the lesser evil but rather their actual plans and merits.

But enough of that, little bios of the 5 top candidates as gathered by me through various conversations and news listening (at risk of wrong information from misunderstanding):

Keiko Fujimori: The daughter of the previous president Fujimori. She is a fairly popular congresswomen I believe. The main argument against her is that her father is in jail for human rights violations during his presidency.

Alejandro Toledo: A previous president who is currently first in the polls. The main argument against him is that while he’s not awful, he didn’t do much the first time.

Pedro Pablo Kucynski aka PPK: The son of a US medical missionary. Popular with the middle class, business people. The main argument against him is that he is too American and not going to be good for Peru’s development.

Ollanta Humala: Popular with lower classes and in the country. The arguments against him are that he’s in the league of Hugo Chavez and would nationalize many industries and arrange to stay in office just as Chavez has done.

Luis Castaneda: a former mayor of Lima who is accused of corruption while mayor

We’ll have to wait to see who goes to the second round.

Hasta la proxima

PS: I’m gone again this weekend. Off to Arequipa!

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