Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo has finally been confirmed as Peru’s next president and will be sworn into office next week after one of the longest and bitterest electoral battles in the country’s history.
The national election jury confirmed Castillo’s victory in a televised speech Monday night, more than six weeks after a second-round ballot. Keiko Fujimori, Castillo’s only rival for the presidency, acknowledged her defeat, saying she would “recognize the results because that is what the law and the constitution have sworn to uphold the order.”
However, Fujimori called the JNE’s announcement “illegitimate” and said the electoral fraud she claimed had tipped the vote in favor of Castillo “coming to light.”
In a coup to Castillo and Vladimir Cerrón, the harsh Marxist leader of his political party, Fujimori, the daughter of the country’s former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori, has warned that Peru is embarking on a dangerous new chapter.
“It will be difficult because communism does not assume power only to then give up,” he said. “But I’m sure the Peruvians won’t allow Pedro Castillo and Vladimir Cerrón to move Peru to Cuba or Venezuela.”
Peru’s electoral authorities said weeks ago that Fujimori lost the June 6 poll by 44,000 votes, or a margin of 49.9 percent to 50.1 percent. The EU, the Organization of American States and the United States have described the elections as fair. Washington until calling the survey “a model of democracy in the region.”
But in an echo of Donald Trump in last year’s U.S. presidential election, Fujimori insisted that the victorious Peru Libre party had cheated. His lawyers bombarded the JNE with objections, forcing the body to carefully review ballot papers from across the country and delaying the formal announcement of the winner.
Analysts consulted by the Financial Times said the lawyers had produced some evidence of irregularities, but not enough to significantly influence the outcome.
“There is no evidence of fraud. Nothing,” said David Sulmont, a professor of political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Lima. “In a world where everyone has a cell phone, if there was fraud, it would be now. on social networks and it’s not like that. His account is 100 percent false news.
Castillo, 51, is a rural primary school teacher who emerged from the darkness to win elections by attracting the poor of Peru, particularly in the remote countries of the Andes and the Amazon basin. The slogan of his campaign – “There are no more poor people in a rich country” – resonated a lot.
The prospect of their victory has pushed Peru’s currency, the sun, to unprecedented lows against the dollar. It has depreciated 9 percent since Castillo emerged as a potential election winner in April despite repeated interventions by the central bank. Rich Peruvians have moved money out of the country.
Castillo denies being a Marxist but his critics point to Cerrón’s influence over the party.
Cerrón was a Cuban-trained doctor who was not authorized to treat himself because of a corruption conviction, who was the author of a notorious manifesto praising Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. He warned foreign companies in Peru that they will have to hand over most of their profits to the State and face expropriation if they refuse.
Castillo distanced himself from the document and approached a more moderate left-wing left, although he insisted on trying to rewrite the country’s 1993 constitution.
His party will have only 37 of the 130 seats in Peru’s fragmented Congress and may have difficulty governing. The country’s constitution also lends itself to politicians impeaching the president – Castillo will be the fifth leader in five years.
He will take office on July 28, 200 years of Peru’s independence from Spanish rule.