BY CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER
Runoffs are never good and never were. Especially for the candidate who provokes greater rejection. The balloting makes clear not what the voter wishes but what he doesnât want.
In a runoff, you vote against someone. For example, the Peruvians gave Ollanta Humala 33 percent of the votes and Keiko Fujimori 22 percent in the first round. Shortly thereafter, a poll revealed that the distance between them when facing each other, one on one, had been reduced to eight points. The latest survey reveals that only four points separate them. The trend favors Keiko.
It is inevitable to remember the 2006 elections. In the first round of that contest, Ollanta Humala obtained 30 percent of the votes and Alan García came in second with 24. In the runoff, despite the terrible experience of his first administration (1985-1990), characterized by hyperinflation and corruption scandals, García won with 53 percent of the vote.
Why did Alan win, without being destroyed by the bad memories left by his previous presidency? He won because most Peruvians regarded Humala a radical in the mold of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez who might drag the country toward the abyss of the so-called â21st-Century socialism,â a chaotic way to impoverish society, strain human relations and poison international ties.
In those elections, Alan García very skillfully campaigned against Hugo Chávez more than against Humala, Chávezâs man in Lima, and achieved victory.
Humala learned the lesson, and in this campaign he presents himself as a disciple of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva rather than Chávez. Heâs no longer a carnivorous socialist, he says. He insists that he has become tame and vegetarian. But the Peruvians, if we judge by the electoral trends, donât believe him.
When did that transformation occur in Humalaâs heart and conscience? Where are the express condemnations of the violations of democratic standards and human rights that happen in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador â countries that, for now, shape the map of 21st-Century socialism?
The Peruvians fear, not without reason, that Humalaâs moderation is a disguise. They think that he is the same radical and dangerous wolf he always was, this time clad in a lambâs wool coat thatâs too small for him. His current discourse is not what he really believes in but what has been suggested to him by the voting experts who advise him. They are making him sing a kind of dishonest ideological karaoke.
Once installed in Pizarro Palace, suspicious Peruvians presume, Humala will begin the dismantling of the democratic system, the cutting back of freedoms and the substitution of the economic model of market and private property by something similar to Chávezâs model.
How? The Fidel Castro-Hugo Chavéz model has a method. First step will be to elevate the level of popular support above 70 percent of the population. That can be done in less than 18 months through the creation of a framework of subsidies and government aid that wrecks the economy but draws loud popular applause.
The purpose is to recruit an army of grateful stomachs, for which he would rely on the large economic reserves left by Alan Garcíaâs outstanding second term, and the help of Venezuelan petrodollars, now that the barrel of crude exceeds $100.
The script then calls for a summons to referenda to reform or revoke the Constitution, to remake Parliament and give the president special powers, until, through a majority vote, the âliberal democracyâ enjoyed by the Peruvians, founded on a division of powers and the limitation of authority, is replaced by a âdictatorial democracy,â agreed to and legitimized by the governed. This monstrosity has a precedent in Roman law, when the consuls agreed to turn over all authority to a supreme leader called the âdictator.â
Will Humala manage to overcome the fears of most Peruvians? That will depend on the decision made by that high percentage of voters who prefer not to vote or to spoil their ballot rather than opt for him or Keiko.
Thatâs what happened in 2006: Millions of Peruvians who had sworn never to back the APRA pinched their noses and voted for García, to keep Chávez from imposing his will in Peru. In the end, it was a good decision and García governed effectively. It is very likely that the same will happen this time.
THE MIAMI HERALD
posted onmay , 02 2011