By H. Harrison Coleman IV
In the Peruvian presidential runoff election on June 7, Pedro Castillo of the Perú Libre party won a narrow victory. Castillo and his opponent, Keiko Fujimori, had placed first and second, respectively, in the first round of the Peruvian presidential election, triggering a runoff election between the two. Castillo appears to have won decisively, winning with 50.2% of the vote compared to Fujimori’s 49.8%.
Many viewed this runoff as polarizing, as the two candidates were of very different political ideologies. Castillo, of the socialist Perú Libre party, served as an elementary school teacher since 1995, eventually became the leader of the teacher’s union and organized a nationwide teacher’s strike in 2017. Aside from a 2002 Anguía mayoral campaign, the 2021 presidential election was his entrance into politics. Castillo ran on a platform of breaking up monopolies in Peru, rewriting the constitution pending the election of a constituent assembly, investing a higher percentage of Peru’s national budget in health and education, nationalizing several industries and negotiating new deals with foreign corporations to operate in Peru in exchange for higher levels of corporate wealth to stay in Peru. Castillo has been largely regarded as a far-left populist.
Fujimori of the Fuerza Popular party is no stranger to politics. Fujimori is the daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori, and this was her third run for the highest office in Peru. She ran on a platform of increasing the scope and number of law enforcement officers, building more prisons and pardoning her father, who was convicted of corruption, embezzlement and human rights abuses in his decade-long stint as dictator.
Many believe Castillo’s small margin of victory (0.4%) was largely due to his social conservative beliefs, which include reinstating the Peruvian death penalty. His vision for the ideal Peruvian family has struck many as deeply patriarchal, and he, along with Fujimori, have consistently shown a lack of respect for LGBTQ+ rights, including dismissing the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage. Additionally, he has dismissed the possibility of legalizing marijuana, abortion and voluntary euthanasia under his presidency.
Fujimori lost two previous presidential elections (the first by a margin of 2.9% in 2011 and by 0.24% in 2016). She also embraces the weight of her dictatorial father Alberto, who remains unpopular in Peru 21 years after being ousted in 2000.
The hotly contested and close race has already led to accusations of fraud from the Fujimori campaign and pushback from the Castillo campaign, whose candidate currently stands to become the 63rd President of Peru on July 28.