Fujimori, Humala make last effort for undecided voters

Entering the final stretch of a polarized campaign, presidential hopefuls Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala sent out their last messages Thursday night in an attempt to bait some 10 percent of the electorate that is still undecided.

Both candidates closed their campaigns with rallies in Peruvian capital Lima attended by hordes of supporters.

Fujimori, a 36-year-old congresswoman with an MBA from Columbia University, is seen as more business-friendly and likely to continue Peru’s red-hot economic success.

Fujimori told voters to choose between “a secure future” that she can offer or “a leap into the uncertainty that Commander Humala offers,” daily El Comercio reported.

Many supporters of Fujimori – including Peru’s best known economists Hernando de Soto and former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski – say Humala will turn Peru down a similar path as Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez through higher taxes and greater state control over the economy.

Humala won the first round vote with over 30 percent support, compared to about 23 percent for Fujimori. Support for both candidates in the first election round came from the country’s poorer sectors, but Humala’s base of support also encompasses the large rural sectors that have not seen the benefits from the country’s economic success.

Fujimori has tried to jump on the desire for change among that part of the electorate, but at the same time ensure the upper and middle class sectors in Peru’s cities that the growth they have enjoyed over the last decade will continue.

“We are a proposal for responsible change,” Fujimori said. “[We are] safe and reliable, but we also represent a popular sentiment, a way of doing politics in the field and not from the desk.”

She said she would provide a government of inclusion “with the capacity to carry out works listening to those who have been forgotten and offering only what we can do.”

But like Humala, much of the electorate is deeply suspicious of Fujimori and her Fuerza 2011 party. As the eldest daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, and who also served as first lady during most of his administration, Keiko has previously said she would pardon her father, who is currently serving a 25-year-sentence for human rights violations and corruption during his 1990-2000 administration.

While she has backed off from that promise during the campaign, many supporters of Humala – including Nobel Prize winning author Mario Vargas Llosa and former President Alejandro Toledo – point to her political team to suggest that she will implement similar authoritarian policies as her father.

Most of her advisors and members of Fuerza 2011’s congressional slate served in Alberto Fujimori’s government, which they continue to defend unflinchingly.

Humala and supporters have looked to exploit Fujimori’s weak point in the final days of the campaign.

“We can’t forget the work it cost to fight against the dictator,” said Humala, a 48-year-old former army officer and leader of the Gana Peru party. “On my side, there can be doubts, but on the other there is proof. The same people who accompanied [Alberto] Fujimori and [Vladimiro] Montesinos, are the same people who accompany Congresswoman Fujimori.”

The last opinion polls allowed prior to the election, published a week ago, show Humala and Fujimori in a neck-to-neck race. The second round vote is this Sunday and the winner will assume office on July 28.

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One Comment

  1. I believe that Humala is the lesser of two evils. Peru must continue to prosper but wealth needs to be better distributed. A country where so much injustice and poverty exists lends itself to potential violent uprisings. Peru can lead the way. It’s people are great, they have energy and are among the best in South America. Go Peru go. Show the rest of Latin America what you are capable of. Viva Peru.

    René from Ireland living in Zurich, Switzerland and a lover of Peru

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