LIMA – Peruvians calmly went to the polls on Sunday to vote in special elections to choose new legislators and end the political crisis that has kept the legislative and executive branches at odds since 2016.
Peru’s special legislative elections resulted on Sunday in a fragmented Congress with at least seven parties holding seats in the chamber, although the center-right appears to have a majority, according to one exit poll.
The Accion Popular party of former President Fernando Belaunde Terry garnered at least 11.8 percent of the popular vote nationwide and was the party obtaining the most support, according to the exit poll conducted by Ipsos for America Television.
In second place, with 8.8 percent of the votes, is the rightist Alliance for Progress, headed by businessman Cesar Acuña.
Obtaining enough votes to hold seats in Congress for the first time – 8.1 percent, the threshold being 5 percent of the popular vote – was the Partido Morado, which has a liberal cast and is headed by Julio Guzman, one of the new faces in Peruvian politics, and, along with Accion Popular, is one of the Martin Vizcarra government’s main supporters.
Also entering Congress for the first time, although these preliminary results have not yet been confirmed, is Podemos Peru, with 7.4 percent of the vote and headed by businessman Jose Luna and the most well-known face within which is former minister and ex-general Daniel Urresti.
Forces backing the Fujimori family, which headed the opposition and had a clear majority in the Congress that was dissolved last year by President Martin Vizcarra, obtained 7.1 percent of the votes.
The big surprise in the early exit polling was the return to Congress – after 38 years in the wilderness – of the Popular Agricultural Front (Frepap), an evangelist party founded by Ezequiel Ataucusi, garnering 7 percent of the votes.
The Peruvian left, which fielded four parties in these elections, will be represented by the Broad Front – with 6.2 percent of the votes – while the Together for Peru party will also be able to hold seats in Congress if the vote count confirms the exit polling showing the party overcame the 5 percent threshold.
The Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP), of late ex-President Alan Fujimori, will not be represented in Congress, it appears, having obtained just 2.8 percent of the vote.
The ultra-right emerged severely weakened in the election, with the National Solidarity party, headed by former Fujimori-lawmaker Rosa Bartra, got just 1.4 percent of the votes.
Sharing that fate is the Contigo party of former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who went from winning the last presidential elections to getting just 0.9 percent of the votes in these legislative elections.
The exit poll was conducted by Ipsos for America Television by speaking with 32,000 voters at 405 precincts all around the country. The error margin of the survey is 2 percent, sources said.
The 24.8 million Peruvians eligible to vote, which is obligatory for people between the ages of 18 and 70, began the day standing in long lines at the entrances to polling places all around the country, and no incidents – except for a few minor delays in opening some of the precincts – were reported.
In all, some 5,400 polling places were set up for election day, and they remained open until 4:00 pm, with the preliminary results beginning to be released starting about 8:00 pm, the National Elections Office (ONPE) told EFE.
According to the most recent surveys, more than half of all voters said that they are not sure who they will vote for, this attitude evidently being the result of society’s general disenchantment with the political class which led more than 80 percent of voters to back Vizcarra’s decision to dissolve Congress and call new elections.
Added to the high voter absenteeism and the casting of invalid ballots, both of which could total some 30-35 percent, election forecasts are very uncertain and expectations are low for a new Congress that will be tasked with stabilizing the country, normalizing relations with the executive branch and carrying out the wishes of the population to combat corruption.
In any case, the latest voter surveys published before the standard ban on the release of any election-related information, along with several public opinion studies disseminated by the media but which they cannot yet publish in detail, indicated that Congress would have a center-right majority sharply differentiated from Fujimorism, an ideal scenario for Vizcarra as he goes into the last 18 months or so of his mandate.