Peru’s Political Nightmare Just Got Worse

Peru’s Political Nightmare Just Got Worse
Presidential candidate of the Peru Libre party Pedro Castillo speaks during a conference in Chota, Peru, April 14, 2021 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

A dozen years ago, when Peruvians were heading to the polls for a presidential runoff election, the acclaimed novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who had himself once tried his hand at politics, famously likened the choice voters faced between the two remaining candidates to that between AIDS and cancer. Since then, Peruvians have seen their political system careen off the rails, culminating in last weekend’s first-round presidential election, the outcome of which sent financial markets tumbling and left the country in shock.

A mind-boggling 18 candidates were on the ballot, ensuring a thoroughly fragmented vote and an unpredictable result. But even those who expected the unexpected didn’t imagine that the largely unknown Pedro Castillo and his very far-left party, Peru Libre, would take first place.

If Castillo’s victory came as a surprise, the second-place finisher—who will go head-to-head with him in the second round in June—left millions of Peruvians as despondent about the choice they will now face as many were 12 years ago. Keiko Fujimori—the right-wing daughter of the imprisoned, authoritarian former President Alberto Fujimori—appears to have edged out her closest opponents, setting the stage for a far-left versus far-right election. Peruvians who wanted centrist policies are left with a dilemma likely to elicit revulsion—and perhaps new metaphors from Vargas Llosa, now living in Spain.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review