June 4, 2006 [LINK]

Peruvians go to polls, glumly

The election in Peru was held today, with many voters having the resigned attitude that neither of the final two candidates are likely to serve the country well. The early exit polls by APOYO indicate that Alan Garcia leads Ollanta Humala 52.8% to 47.2%, but there is a huge margin for error, and we may not know who the real winner is until tomorrow, or even after that. See BBC and El Comercio (in Spanish). There is a large risk that dissatisfaction with the electoral results will further disillusion Peruvians with democracy. The incumbent president, Alejandro Toledo, has had an approval rating of less than ten percent for many months.

UPDATE: Garcia wins?!

Alan Garcia declared himself the winner this evening, even though the votes are still being counted. (With 77 percent of the returns in, he leads 55% to 45%; see peru.com.) He pledged a government of "concertation, consensus, dialogue, and openness" (roughly translated). He won a big majority of votes in Lima, while his opponent fared much better in the outlying provinces. See El Comercio (in Spanish). For a roundup of Peruvian blog commentaries on the elections, see Publius Pundit. Offhand, what is remarkable to me is Garcia's lack of any specific program, in sharp contrast to 1985, when his team of policy experts in APRA had a comprehensive platform of radical changes. Presumably, he learned from the mistakes of the late 1980s, but it's almost anyone's guess what he will do in his second term as president. I'll have much more to say about this tomorrow and in coming days.

2ND UPDATE (just before midnight): Humala has made a concession speech, urging respect for democracy and congratulating his opponents, so it would appear that Garcia has won a clear victory by the end of Election Day after all.

Paraguay update

The Paraguay background information page has been updated.