Peruvians give Alan Garcia a second chance

Exit polls and preliminary official returns show the former Socialdemocratic president winning in the runoff against his nationalistic opponent, Ollanta Humala.

Socialdemocratic candidate and former President Alan Garcia obtained a close victory in Peru’s runoff, according to exit polls and official returns released on Sunday night. Official results gave Garcia 55.5 percent of the vote compared to 45.5 percent for his nationalistic opponent, Ollanta Humala.

Two exit polls issued when voting ended also gave Garcia the lead, though pollsters cautioned that some people might be hesitant to reveal they had voted for Humala because of heavy criticism of him in the media. Therefore, observers believed definitive results will be known on Monday morning.

“We have to be respectful of the history of hour party and take Peruvians to a road of development, employment, social justice and democracy”, told Alan Garcia to a crowd in the capital Lima, by 8 pm local time. “We know that we have a great challenge ahead, so we will have to open our arms to the remaining political forces to bring Peruvians prosperity”, he added.

Alan Garcia appeals to the other political forces of Peru comes as his party, the APRA, won in Lima and the wealthy northern districts of the country, but his opponent Ollanta Humala cleaned up the vote in the impoverished highland regions of the South. There, a majority of indigenous farmers voted for Ollanta Humala’s nationalistic slogans.

Garcia, who ruled Peru between 1985 and 1990 and left power accused of corruption scandals, made reference to his previous presidency. “We are here to build a modern leftist movement that has to rule honestly and prudentially for all the Peruvians”, he told the cheering crowd dressed in red and white, the colours of the APRA Party.

Before voting, Garcia met with reporters over breakfast, urging voters to reject the interference of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in Peru's election. "Not only are we defining our way of life, but also putting a roadblock in front of the expansion of a country that, because it has more wealth, wants to export its model," he said. "I believe that Peru has the right to choose its own path and its own model."

Chavez openly supported Ollanta Humala in this election and even labeled Garcia of “thieve”. The attacks of Chavez proved to be a good tool for Garcia to undermine Humala’s nationalistic rhetoric, as the former Army trooper was backed by a foreign country. Peruvians, as all Latin American countries, are very proud of themselves and do not accept foreign meddling in their internal affairs.

During his speech Garcia said that only one person had been defeated, and that such a persona did not have “a Peruvian ID”. Obviously, Garcia was targeting Chavez who, according to the Peruvian Socialdemocratic leader “is rolling in petrodollars from record-high oil prices, as "a midget dictator with a big wallet." Chavez had early said that Garcia was "a genuine thief, a demagogue, a liar."

Garcia sought to overcome nightmarish memories of his earlier presidency, with its raging inflation, political violence and long lines for food. He said he was aware some Peruvians "will hold their noses" when they voted for him as "the lesser of two evils," but said he was determined not to repeat the errors he made as a young president.

In a short statement to his followers, Ollanta Humala said that he would wait for official results but celebrated the elections as a “social and political victory for a young nationalistic movement that has changed the political life of the country forever”.

Despite the bitterly fought election between the top finishers in an April election of 20 candidates that saw street violence and virulent exchanges of slurs, observers commented that Sunday runoff was fair and peaceful.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov