April 10, 2006
All day long today, the voting tabulations in Peru showed that Lourdes Flores' margin over Alan Garcia [in the race for second place] was shrinking, and by the evening he had grabbed a slight lead. According to the latest figures, with 79 percent* of the ballots counted, Garcia has 24.9 percent to 24.3 percent for Flores. At this point it would take a huge swing in the late-counted districts for Flores to make up that difference, so it looks like Garcia will face the front-runner Ollanta Humala in Round Two. Because of widespread fears of what Humala might do if he wins in the second round, either Garcia or Lourdes would probably pick up a large portion of the votes cast for each other in the first round and stand a very good chance to defeat Humala. For those who are familiar with Garcia's disastrous first term as president, from 1985 to 1990, the idea that he would be considered the mature, responsible alternative in the upcoming election is almost too ironic to believe.
It is especially ironic that this apparent devastating setback for the cause of economic freedom and opportunity in Peru coincides with the mass protests by immigrants-rights advocates in the United States. Another catastrophe in Peru like what happened in the 1980s would add huge pressure for more immigration to the U.S.A.
* I apparently misinterpreted the election returns reported in the late update yesterday when I wrote that 83 percent of the votes had been counted as of 9:00 P.M.