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Results from the second round of Peru’s presidential election

02 July 2021 Veronica Burford

Results from the second round of Peru's 6 June presidential election show that at the time of writing on 28 June far-left candidate Pedro Castillo had received 50.12% of the vote. With 100% of votes counted, the National Elections Jury (Jurado Nacional de Elecciones: JNE) has stated that it will announce the winner of the election only once a process of review and resolution of requests for annulment has concluded.

Pedro Castillo from far-left Free Peru (Perú Libre: PL) party was the frontrunner with 50.12%, while conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori of the Popular Force (Fuerza Popular: FP) party had 49.87%.

The candidates are separated by a difference of only 44,058 votes. The JNE is currently reviewing FP's 802 appeals to annul the vote at some polling stations, with 200,000 votes at stake. Fujimori has continued to claim that irregularities have taken place in the vote. Electoral authorities have rejected the claims, and international observers have said that the elections were free and fair. The appeals are mainly concentrated in the centre and south of the country, where Castillo obtained 65-85% of votes. The atypical number of legal appeals is delaying the transfer of government, with the new president scheduled to take office on 28 July. Normally, the handover of power starts immediately after results are confirmed, which in previous elections has happened within two weeks of the election.

Altercations between pro-Castillo and pro-Fujimori supporters occurred following the early results, but demonstrations have remained peaceful in the days since.

Post-election protests are likely to extend for several weeks while an announcement by the JNE is pending, and are likely to be concentrated in Lima near the historic centre and outside National Office of Electoral Processes (Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales: ONPE) and JNE offices. Fujimori supporters are likely to continue daily rallies in Lima near Paseo Colón and Campo Marte to demand the annulment of votes. Protests are likely to escalate if Castillo supporters, including grassroots movements such as the Unique National Central of Peasant Patrols of Peru (Central Única Nacional de Rondas Campesinas del Perú: CUNARC-P), carry out parallel demonstrations in the area, increasing the risk of violent altercations between supporters of rival candidates, with security forces using tear gas to disperse protesters.

If the JNE declares Castillo president, he is likely to seek to revise the 1993 Constitution, increase corporate taxes, and renegotiate extractive-sector contracts.

Castillo's programme proposes an increased role for the state, revising the 1993 Constitution to "recover strategic resources". Although he originally proposed expropriating the main mining sites, Castillo is now likely to seek instead that 70-80% of companies' profits be retained by the state. Currently, the all-in tax rate for the Peruvian mining sector amounts to 47% of profits. Castillo also intends to negotiate with the Camisea Consortium, led by Pluspetrol, so that it allocates all of its production to the domestic market, with 70% of its profits going to the state. To impose such contract changes, Castillo would be likely to seek a reform to Title 3 (the Economic Regime) of the Constitution, which guarantees the functions of a market economy and delimits the role of the state to one of subsidiarity.

Opposition parties in Congress are likely to oppose policies that radically alter conditions affecting investors, risking possible confrontations between Castillo and the legislature, and increasing the risk of impeachment.

Amending the Constitution would require the backing of 67 of the 130 members of Congress, followed by approval in a public referendum, which remains unlikely. Most of the centre and centre-right parties represented in the next Congress will be broadly sympathetic to the continuation of the current business-friendly approach. Any president who wants to avoid an impeachment vote will need support from at least 44 members of the 130-member Congress. PL will be the largest party in Congress with 37 of 130 seats, but Castillo is only likely to form a coalition with left-of-centre's Together for Peru (Juntos por el Perú: JPP), leaving him with 42 votes. If he wins, Castillo will need to negotiate his programme with centrist and centre-right parties, which will severely constrain his agenda. In doing so, he may alienate his left-wing support, decreasing his prospects of pushing through policy. His scope for policy manoeuvre may be further limited by moves by the outgoing conservative majority in Congress to push ahead with appointments to the Constitutional Tribunal, to ensure a conservative majority.

A Fujimori victory would be very likely to result in broad continuity in economic policy, promoting private investment in the mining sector.

Fujimori does not support changes to the Constitution and would maintain the existing mining code, which dates from the 1990s, both designed by her father, former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).

Posted 02 July 2021 by Veronica Burford, Senior Research Analyst, Economics & Country Risk, IHS Markit

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