Peru presidential victor Humala faces balancing act
After edging out Keiko Fujimori in one of the tightest elections in the country's history, Ollanta Humala will try to help the poorest Peruvians while still maintaining Peru's economic growth.
(Page 2 of 2)
Humala’s initial platform called for a much greater state role in the economy in order to distribute the benefits of growth and address the resentment. One plank talks about electricity, water, and natural resources, most of which are run by private companies, as “strategic activities that will be put to use to develop the nation and Peruvians.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
This kind of language terrified the country’s elites and foreign investors, who feared Humala meant to replicate Hugo Chávez’s model in Venezuela. Humala’s opponents painted him as a Chávez clone when he first ran for president in 2006. It worked and he lost. Humala has been distancing himself from Mr. Chávez ever since, and told foreign reporters two days before the vote that the Venezuelan economic and political model was not for Peru.
While not changing his platform, Humala announced two additional plans, a "commitment to Peru" and "roadmap for progress" that he said complemented it. The road map, presented in May, was much less ambitious than his original platform and included a pledge not to change the fundamentals of Peru's economic model.
Many remained unconvinced, as his razor-thin margin of victory shows. “Humala sounds too much like Chávez. I don’t think his ideas are what Peru needs if we are to continue to grow,” said Roque Gonzales after casting his ballot in a neighborhood in southern Lima.
Economic concerns already
The political give-and-take began immediately after the vote ended and exit polls pointed to a victory by Humala. Opponents in Congress called for Humala to quickly name an economic team to guarantee stability during the seven-week transition period before his inauguration on July 28.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former finance minister who came in third behind Humala and Fujimori in the April vote, echoed the call for Humala to set up his economic team, as Mr. Kuczynski predicted a big devaluation of Peru’s currency and drop in the local stock exchange in the days following the vote.
But Congressman Daniel Abugattas, a close Humala advisor, said there will be no rushing into things. He said the stock market might be down at the start of the week, but it will bounce back strong in a few days. “We are not offering anything radical,” he said.