KEIKO Fujimori did her best to delay the celebrations, but Pedro Castillo’s stunning victory in Peru has been all but confirmed as he continues to widen his electoral lead.
After storming ahead of all other leftist candidates in April’s first round – including rising star Veronika Mendoza – Castillo had enjoyed a healthy lead in the polls over Fujimori, daughter of former neoliberal leader Alberto.
But in what was quickly becoming a crucial ideological battle between socialism and neoliberalism, the polls tightened up as voters approached the ballot box.
After the first round of voting, in which Castillo chalked up almost a million votes more than Fujimori despite the number of leftists running, he was up by double digits in polling for the second round.
But a few days before the election, pollsters showed the ideologically opposed pair almost neck and neck.
Professor Alberto Posso had warned Redaction Report that the opinion shift may have been down to voters in the centre and on the centre-left fearing that Castillo may be too radical.
“Indeed, Peruvians, as most Latin Americans, are generally terrified of the debacle caused by leftist populists in the region,” he said.
“Many people in the centre will be worried about Peru following the footsteps of Venezuela and as such are likely to vote for Fujimori.”
Early on election night, Fujimori had taken a substantial lead as votes came in from major cities.
However, as working class rural votes swept in, Castillo eventually overtook his opponent. He also enjoyed significant support from areas where major mines are situated, having promised significant reform against the businesses “plundering” Peru’s wealth.
Despite Fujimori’s protests and calls to null the vote, the Organisation of American States (OAS) found no evidence of anything wrong.
It means that, once again, a Latin American nation has shifted back to the left. After significant victories in Ecuador and Bolivia, it’s clear the conservative counter-wave of the 2010s may be coming to an end.
From a leftist perspective, Castillo is by no means perfect; while economically sound, he has been accused of social conservatism on issues such as abortion.
But when he’s up against the daughter of a neoliberal strongman keen to emulate her father’s rule, Peruvian leftists aren’t complaining.
While his victory is crucial for ordinary Peruvians – who have faced a morbidly high death rate from Covid-19 and seen inequality rise in recent years – the symbolism of Castillo’s victory will send shivers down the backs of conservatives elsewhere in the continent.
With Lula polling well in Brazil, Petro in Colombia and the leftist slate set to dominate the Chilean parliament, the 2020s could well be heralded as the return of the Pink Tide.
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