The Peruvian elections went off without too much of a hitch last Sunday 9 April. As counting began, the early trends confirmed what the most recent polls had shown. While Ollanta Humala was looking to get a clear 30-31 percent of the vote and go through the run-off, things were super tight between Lourdes Flores and Alan Garcia.
Exit polls showed both would get about 24-25 percent, with the margin between them less than the margin of error. Lourdes led early, as the votes from the cities came in first. Then, after about 50 percent was counted, Alan surged into second place. He moved to 1.0-1.2 percent and stayed there. Then, when about 80 percent of the vote had been counted and the tension was rising....everyone went on holiday.
Yep, it's one of those things you've got to love about Peru. The most important political event for five years, but not a patch on the Easter church services and all day bbqs. Only on Good Friday itself did the vote count not progress at all, on the official site of the electoral commission, ONPE. But over the whole of the weekend, the total vote count has managed to rise from 84% to 89%.
To be fair, many of the later votes will be coming in from remote rural areas, and from overseas.
As the count slowly climbs, Lourdes has begun to make up some ground, and is now less than 1 percent behind Alan. A lot depends on the impact of the overseas votes, where she has about 60 percent support (as opposed to 24 percent overall). There's an estimated total of 185,000 of overseas votes to come in, but over half of these have now been counted. On my back of the envelope calculations, it won't be enough for Lourdes Flores to overtake Alan.
Interestingly, 137 Peruvians in New Zealand voted (for Peruvians, voting is compulsory). There were 112 in Auckland and 25 in Wellington. Overall, Lourdes Flores received 76 percent of the valid votes. However, in Wellington 17 out of 20 valid votes (85 percent) were cast for Lourdes, and no one at all supported rabble-rouser Humala. Who said Aucklanders were more right wing?
After bitching and sniping at each other in recent times, it now looks like Lourdes and Alan may be building bridges, in order to try and shut out Humala in the second round. El Comercio reported that their two parties are tentatively looking at some kind of front which sets "democracy against authoritarianism".
I'll try and squeeze in an opinion piece on all this amidst my snappy, regular (let's hope) updates on my travels.