(Reuters) - Leftist Ollanta Humala leads the polls in Peru’s April 10 presidential race and could face former president Alejandro Toledo, lawmaker Keiko Fujimori or former prime minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in a June 5 run-off.
All candidates in the tight race say they would lower Peru’s high 35 percent poverty rate while maintaining economic growth, but Humala appeals most to poor voters who feel left out of Peru’s decade-long economic boom.
Despite Humala’s efforts to recast himself as an economic moderate, Peru’s currency has weakened and its cost of borrowing money has risen as his lead widens in the polls, just as they did when he nearly won the 2006 election.
Toledo’s support is evenly distributed across all social classes and regions and he was well-liked by investors during his 2001-2006 term. Kuczynski, a former investment banker, is favored by many wealthy Peruvians.
Below are profiles and key proposals from each candidate:
Humala, 48, burst onto the national scene in 2000 when he and his brother led a short-lived military revolt to demand then President Alberto Fujimori quit because of corruption scandals.
He has since tried to distance himself from his radical past and his former political guru, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez, who endorsed his 2006 presidential bid.
Wearing a suit and tie, Humala made the most moderate speech of his political life on March 28. He pledged to respect central bank independence and Peru’s free-trade agreements.
He still talks about vigorously regulating strategic sectors like mining and oil and his opponents point to inconsistencies between his official platform and his tempered public discourse on the stump.
- A revised constitution for a “new economic model” that keeps sectors including water and sanitation in public hands.
- Tax international miners 40 to 45 percent of profits, up from 30 percent currently. Raise oil and gas royalties.
- Keep annual inflation around 2.5 percent with a stable exchange rate. Fiscal deficit not to exceed 1 percent of GDP.
- Evaluate a gradual reduction of the national sales tax to 14 percent or 15 percent, down from 18 percent currently.
- Prioritize liquid natural gas from Camisea fields for domestic energy consumption rather than export.
- “Social control” rather than eradication of coca crops in the world’s top grower of the leaf used to make cocaine.
- Increase education and healthcare spending.
For full platform see: www.goo.gl/EInGt
A popular member of Congress, Fujimori has indicated her policies would mostly follow those of her father. A right-wing populist in power from 1990-2000, Alberto Fujimori is now in jail for corruption and human rights abuses.
In a topsy-turvy race, his daughter, 35, has kept a stable 20 percent of support from Peruvians who say the elder Fujimori’s authoritarian measures saved the country from collapse during guerrilla insurgencies in the 1990s.
Poor supporters recall his low-income housing programs and soup kitchens while the business community credits the elder Fujimori with curbing hyper-inflation and opening Peru’s economy. They prefer Keiko to left-wing populist Humala.
Keiko has promised to respect human rights and stops short of saying she would pardon her father, who is now 72.
- Growth of at least 7 percent per year.
- Promote free enterprise and free trade.
- Cut red tape, simplify tax procedures and reduce the costs of doing business by 20 percent in the next five years.
- Expand comprehensive health insurance.
- Build more prisons, death penalty for severe crimes.
- Enhance access to safe housing with water and basic sanitation. Grant land titles and expand access to mortgages.
- Tax windfall profits of miners.
- Force wildcat miners to stop using toxic mercury.
For complete platform see: www.goo.gl/kHhZp
Toledo, once a shoe-shine boy from a poor Andean town, led Peru’s push into free-trade pacts during his 2001-2006 term and is credited with restoring democratic rule in Peru.
His humble roots and indigenous features endeared him to Peruvians, but many were disenchanted by his frequent partying and excessive personal spending during his first term.
Though he was once the election front-runner, poor voters who want change have abandoned Toledo for Humala while many upper class voters have transferred their support to Kuczynski.
Toledo, 65, is more liberal on social issues than his opponents. Recently, he has fiercely defended economic policies that promote investment and have been in place for the past decade, calling a Humala government a “leap into emptiness.”
- Growth of at least 6 percent per year, and simplified rules and rationalization for tax exemptions.
- New initiatives to reshape the domestic and external public debt offered in 2003.
- Convert Peru into a maritime hub by improving logistics and infrastructure. Double agricultural exports.
- Give land titles to all dwellers in shantytowns.
- Propose civil unions for same-sex couples.
- Possibly tax windfall mining profits.
- Monitor coca cultivation with national satellite system.
- Double teacher salaries in 5 years.
- Give regional governments more discretion and authority.
- Reduce poverty rate to 10 percent from 35 percent, and eliminate extreme poverty.
For complete platform see: www.goo.gl/oQbqz
Kuczynski, 72, is a former Wall Street executive who served as prime minister under Toledo. A renown technocrat, he also worked at the World Bank and as finance and energy minister.
Many Peruvians see him as a light-skin outsider and call him “El Gringo.” Kuczynski, who has degrees from Oxford and Princeton, recently turned in his U.S. passport to the U.S. embassy and says he will give it up entirely if elected.
- Decentralize the finance ministry so regional governments can more quickly approve infrastructure projects.
- Lower national sales tax to 15 percent (now 18 percent).
- Provide all Peruvians with clean drinking water.
- Improve public education and increase education budget.
- Improve security through more police and a strong arm approach to crime and drug trafficking.
- Eliminate extreme poverty in 10 years.
For full platform see: www.ppk.pe/25-compromisos
Reporting by Marco Aquino, Patricia Velez and Caroline Stauffer in Lima; Editing by Terry Wade