Pedro Castillo Terrones, the leftist primary school teacher and presidential candidate of the electoral list Peru Libre (“Free Peru”), could be inaugurated as the next president of Peru and his far-right challenger Keiko Fujimori of the electoral list Fuerza Popular could lose a presidential election for the third time. By our South America Correspondent
For more than a week, Peru’s National Electoral Authority (ONPE) updated the increasingly infrequent officially recognized votes for the run-off election of June 6. With its last update of Monday, June 14, ONPE announced that, with 100 percent of the votes counted and 99.985 percent verified, the former chairman of the Teachers ' Union of Peru (Sutep), Pedro Castillo, was still in first place with 50.127 percent of the votes cast, while opponent Keiko Fujimori lost the presidential election with 49.873 percent of the votes cast.
The extremely narrow lead of 44,816 votes, or 0.254 percentage points, was used by the candidate Fujimori to contest the election during the slow vote registration from the Peruvian hinterland. Dozens of lawyers have filed more than 800 election challenge lawsuits on their behalf since June 10. The far-right Fujimori scene intensified the offensive with psychological terror, siege of private addresses, threat to prosecutors, well-known figures from culture and democratic media, and the threat of a coup d’état aimed at preventing official recognition of the election victory and the transfer of office to the left-wing primary school teacher Pedro Castillo Terrones. At the beginning of the week, the Peruvian Public Prosecutor’s Office opened investigations into the attacks.
Castillo electoral list wins majority in new parliament
The National Election Jury (JNE), a kind of election supervisory body, is under strong double-firing. Fujimori forced him to extend the deadline for the official announcement of the election result, which aroused suspicions on the part of Castillo supporters at home and abroad that the impartiality of the JNE was not to be trusted. However, during the Sunday break in the conflict over the election result, the JNE announced the distribution of the 130 seats in the Peruvian Congress (Parliament), whose parliamentary representatives were also elected last June 6. According to this, Castillo’s electoral list Peru Libre with 37 seats represents the numerically strongest faction, followed by Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular with 24 seats. Which means that no matter which election winner, even Castillo will not have a majority in parliament and will have to seek alliances for his policies in order to pass laws with at least 66 votes. Or even" have to save themselves from impeachment", as Peruvian journalists warn; a very fast procedure in Peru, for which only 87 votes are needed.
The new President and Congress are scheduled to take office on July 28, the day Peru celebrates its 200th anniversary. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of its independence.
Columnist of the New York Times also goes to court with media
However, after calling both candidacies “mediocre and dangerous,” Alberto Vergara denounced Fujimori’s extreme right. “In the blink of an eye, the politics of terror were imposed on society. Fujimorism unleashed a campaign of fear of communism and terrorism supposedly embodied by Castillo. Much of society panicked. When I heard politicians, businessmen and citizens say in mid-April that they would only vote for Fujimori with disgust, by mid-May it had already been reinterpreted as the embodiment of freedom. As a result, the one who was the “lesser evil” became a Providential Savior. This transformation is no nonsense. If you are afraid, the one who saves you from death is an honorable character. Those who used the politics of fear most treacherously were the Fujimori camp, the upper class and the mass media. Businessmen threatened to fire their workers if Castillo won. So-called ordinary citizens threatened to fire their domestic workers if they applied for (note. FF: Castillo’s electoral list) Peru Libre. The streets were full of threatening posters, paid for by the business world, warning of an imminent communist invasion … This undemocratic behavior was joined by the media. Television, in particular, showed a partiality typical of authoritarian regimes. With the downright destruction of electoral norms, the TV programs turned into spaces for simulated or open Fujimori propaganda. Even the country’s most influential political journalist interviewed public figures and celebrities who ruminated apocalyptic messages in a scathing way. In other words, to save democracy, she was put into a coma. And Keiko Fujimori watched enthusiastically… " warned Vergara.
the election challenge and the worldwide reactions
Faced with her apparent electoral defeat in the presidential elections in Peru, Keiko Fujimori followed a similar path to former US President Donald Trump: claiming fraud, sowing doubts about the system and making appeals without a legal basis so as not to recognize the legitimate result.
Thus, political scientists and journalists in Peru categorically assess the actions of the daughter and “political heiress” of former dictator Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) against her rival Pedro Castillo. The public prosecutor’s office demanded 30 years of imprisonment against the politician and daughter and requested immediate arrest.
If the rules or the result do not favor me, I will go as far as possible, even beyond it. And if not, I will move to not recognize the winner, political scientist and former head of the Electoral Authority (ONPE) Fernando Tuesta pointed out to the Spanish news agency Efe Fujimori’s tactics with the support of the media and the local oligarchy.
Even the observer mission of the conservative, often coup-friendly Organization of American States (OAS) certified the presidential election as correct and did not complain of any irregularities. Isaac Risco, guest commentator of the liberal-conservative Deutsche Welle, described Fujimori’s actions as a “damage to democracy”. “With her current appearance, Keiko Fujimori now seems to confirm the worst fears of her critics. That it is the greater danger to the fragile Peruvian democracy””
The tactics of the election loser are based on false facts and failed appeals. The goal of these objections of the far-right candidate is the cancellation of 200,000 votes for Castillo. On the one hand, Fujimori’s more than 800 complaints before the election jury were received, for the most part, after the stipulated legal objection period. According to various calculations, the dramatic error, or failure, makes it impossible for Fujimori to defeat Castillo by a majority vote. However, without being able to present the votes to be annulled and without any valid legal arguments justifying her allegations of alleged “fraud” and “systematic irregularities”, the candidate’s insistence points to suspect goals. It seems to be more about a narrative and a strategy to delegitimize the election, political scientist Paula Távara told Efe. This is indeed the case with the marches of Fujimori supporters in front of the JNE election jury, with the aim of imposing on the panel a further extension of the deadline for election challenges, which is unconstitutional according to a judgment of the Peruvian Constitutional Court.
Tuesta and Távara agree that Fujimori’s strategists aim to delegitimize the election as such, undermine Castillo’s victory, and advance his dismissal right after taking office. There is, however, an even more dramatic “option”, which has been somewhat veiled but cheekily addressed in television appearances by right-wing exponents: to “postpone Castillo’s assumption of office with ever more objections even to the legal deadlines in order to force Congress to take over the presidency and call new elections”.
The previously victorious candidate called on his voters to remain vigilant, but to " maintain calm."
However, the General Confederation of Trade Unions of Peru (CGTP) called for mass mobilization and stated: “The CGTP is aimed at workers and Peruvian citizens to reaffirm that in these difficult times for the country, we are not only affected by the effects of the pandemic – which has a very serious impact on the economy, health, employment and family income – but by a political crisis that has worsened in the country.
The honesty of the electoral process that has just been carried out has been recognized by the majority of Peruvians, the delegations of international observers, the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the Civil Transparency Association and various institutions of civil society. The electoral process, which was supposed to be a way out of the political crisis and allow fundamental changes in the country, was unfortunately torpedoed by the Fuerza Popular party and its candidate Keiko Fujimori, who once again, with arrogant attitude, want to twist an election result and not admit that they lost the election and that the new constitutional president elected by the will of the people is Pedro Castillo Terrones of the electoral list Perú Libre. Workers and citizens must respond to this threat with the unity of democratic forces, bourgeois mobilization to protect the will of the people, democracy and the ability to govern, in order to stop the advance of anti-democratic, authoritarian currents and putschists led by Fujimori and the circles of extremist conservatives”.