Thursday, March 17, 2011

Peru Presidential Election: The battle is for second place

We're now just 3 1/2 weeks from the first round of voting to decide who becomes the next President of Peru. With a voting system that allows a winner to be declared if any candidate gets 50% +1 vote, we're now in an almost certain situation where the top two voted will go into a run-off for the job.

There are five live candidates left. Here's a quick rundown on each, plus a rough average of where the last couple of reliable polls put their numbers. I'm also adding what I consider each candidate's percentage chance of making it into the 2nd round (NB: not to become President but to get through to the run-off).

Alejandro Toledo: Polling roughly 26% and even though that number has dropped slightly form the 28% or thereabouts of a few weeks ago he's still a racing certainty to lead the voting on April 10th. The big question now is who will he be up against. The answer will come from one of the next four names. Otto's call on Toledo's run-off chances: 99% (not 100% because never say never, but apart from real weirdness happening, he's there).

Keiko Fujimori: Polling roughly 19% or 20%, Keiko enjoys a hardcore of pro-Fujimori voters (mostly from the lower social strata) that have kept her numbers steady. I see Keiko as setting a benchmark for others to beat if they can, because if not Keiko will make it into the run-off. Otto's call on Keiko's run-off chances: 50%.

Luis Castañeda: Polling roughly 17%. He was leading the polls most of the way through 2010, was neck and neck with Keiko for a long time and now he's fading. His campaign has been a poor one and his decline comes as little surprise considering what the Peruvian public has seen from him. A spent force and not presidential material. Otto's call on Castañeda's run-off chances: 5%.

Ollanta Humala. Polling roughly 15%. By contrast, Ollanta has conducted an effective and impressive campaign and the last couple of weeks have seen his numbers rise from roughly 11%...he's on a roll. He's kept the hardcore left wing policy choices out the limelight, has avoided wearing army fatigues and casual clothing this time and opted for plenty of suits and ties, he's had a pro-poor people message that the lower economic strata have believed (unlike Castañeda, who comes across as saying any old thing to make himself popular). Ollanta has been at his best in street level campaigning and may surprise a lot of people with the size of his vote in provincial/rural Peru.Otto's call on Ollanta's run-off chances: 35%.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski: Polling roughly 11%. PPK is also on a polling roll, having seen his numbers move up from the rough 6% level recently. however there's a big gap between him and Keiko (and the other two) so unless the Castañeda campaign goes into out-and-out freefall and potential Castañeda voters turn to PPK as the useful vote alternative, the breach looks too big at this late stage to cover. However, PPK's campaigning has also been good, especially since changing tactics a few weeks ago and hammering on his strong points (economy above all).Otto's call on PPK's run-off chances: 10%. 

Conclusion: The most likely scenario is Alejandro Toledo vs Keiko Fujimori in the run-off, although be clear that Toledo vs Humala wouldn't be a big shock to me any longer (it would have been 6 months ago, which is a back-handed way of congratulating Humala on a good campaign no matter whether one agrees or not with his politics). Castañeda is likely toast, PPK is moving too late (though another move up to 15% or so in the next set of polls is very possible). Then in round two, Toledo wins.