Ollanta Humala’s apparent presidential electoral victory in Peru represents a consolidation of the gains made by left-leaning leaders in South America over the past decade, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today.
“Democracy, national and regional independence, and economic and social progress have gone hand-in-hand with South America’s leftward political shift over the past decade,” said Weisbrot. “This election continues these trends, for sure.”
As of late Sunday night, quick counts from two firms, Ipsos-Apoyo and Datum Internacional, had Humala ahead with over 51 percent of the vote, compared to less than 49 percent for his opponent, Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of Peru’s former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori. Exit polls showed Humala ahead by over five points.
News of Humala’s victory was welcomed by well-known politicians from across the political spectrum. Author and politician Mario Vargas Llosa, a well-known conservative, said that Humala’s win “saved democracy,” while former president Alejandro Toledo said, “It’s the hour of reconciliation. The people have won, democracy has won, the memory of the people won. The people have opted for economic growth with social inclusion.”
Although official Washington — outside of spokespersons for the far right — did not express a preference, it appears that the Obama administration favored Fujimori.
“This election result also represents another setback for the U.S. government’s strategy of ‘containment and roll-back’ in the region,” said Weisbrot.
Weisbrot also noted that Peru’s traditional elite lost this election because the previous two governments had failed to take the kinds of initiatives that other left governments in the region had done, despite record economic growth.
“Peru’s growth did reduce poverty significantly,” said Weisbrot. “But the government didn’t deliver the kinds of gains that were seen in other countries in health care, education, minimum wages, public pensions, or social spending, as happened in Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela.”
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.