Opinion: Welcome to Peru’s campaign circus (VIDEO)


By Patricia del Río for Perú21
Translated and edited by Jorge Riveros-Cayo

Opinion: Welcome to the circus
The current campaign is the most nonsensical and irresponsible one we’ve had in years, says Del Río. (Cartoon: Rossell/Perú21)

Thanks to Toledo who has crumbled in the polls, to Castañeda who has rolled down the hill, and Keiko, who keeps floating like a huge globe from Wong supermarket, Humala and PPK butted into the fight and now they are part of a very unusual electoral scenario without precedents in Peru or anywhere else in the world.

There is of course a lot of hypothesis that try to explain this quintuple tie. However, one that is repeated very often is that the volatility of the vote has to be blamed on the irresponsibility of Peruvian voters who are influenced by easy promises and nonsense. And this argument is used by everybody: From those that announce that voting for PPK will enable a second round between Humala and Keiko, to the die-hard Humala opposers that warn us to think twice otherwise we will go back to the times of cavemen, and Chávez will rule among us.

All these questionings originated from the principle that we, citizens, vote to screw others; that we do not have any idea of what is more convenient for the country. Is that really true? Wouldn’t it be more probable that people are simply looking for somebody that can solve their daily problems with more efficiency?

From that perspective, why should an inhabitant in Bagua have to vote for PPK or Toledo? Would they put mining interests behind those of the Amazonian communities? And under the same logic, why should an entrepreneur living in San Isidro have to vote for Humala? Would that be convenient for him or her?

The problem, as obvious as it seems, is not who an Aguaruna indigenous or Mr. Álvarez Calderón will vote for, but where is that candidate that can seduce and persuade citizens with such different interests and backgrounds, with a coherent government plan for all.

And that is where, I think, we should observe the incongruence of this presidential campaign: In a scenario where there are four candidates (Keiko, Toledo, Castañeda, and PPK) with ideas of progress and development that are more or less the same, instead of hearing clear proposals that could differentiate them, all we have received is poor and erratic ideas. As an example, why will the voter not be undecided if only a month ago, all candidates were willing to discuss therapeutic abortion and gay marriage, and now they all parade in front of Cipriani, with their rosary in hand, declaring they are anti-everything?

But the worst is yet to come. As the top five merge closer, candidates should make and effort to offer solutions that people want to listen to, in conformity with the model of country they propose. But what they do instead is try to click with the people at any cost and regardless of how ridiculous this can result. Toledo goes to a television program to cheer Sofía Franco and Peluchín to kiss in public; Castañeda, who never talks, will rather jump like a rabbit with Carlín; the former phlegmatic and gringo PPK acts ridiculously in Magaly’s program; Keiko, not to be left behind, and looks like a character taken out from some folkloric museum, and nobody knows if Humala is in campaign or training for a marathon because all he does is run…

Peru’s campaigns on TV

PPK fries eggs with Magaly Toledo sings on "Amor Amor"
Castañeda does a humor routine Humala keeps on running
Keiko goes folkloric  

Is it valid to ask then, are these kind of actions really that bad? Is it a sin to sing, almost shouting, even if you have a voice worse than Alan García’s? Of course not. We have seen clowns in all campaigns, and it is quite inevitable. To some extent, this kind of behavior humanizes the candidates. However, in such a context as the one we are in, where there isn’t one single and solid idea dominating the electoral debate, I’m afraid that what we have left until April 10 is a joke.

Forget the exchange of ideas, and prepare yourself for an egg fight, fake girl friends, kisses in public, ludicrous dances, shouting songs, and other absurdities, that will turn this campaign into the most nonsensical and irresponsible one we have witnessed in many years.

Patricia del Río hosts a program in Radio Programas del Perú and writes a weekly political column in Perú21. Read her profile of Jaime Bayly in
15 Peruvians of 2010.