The moderate economist who rivaled front-runner Keiko Fujimori was suddenly disqualified after a technical mishap. Peru’s electoral council claims that Julio Guzman was chosen under circumstances that violated the party’s own internal rules.
Many critics of the decision describe it as “petty”, suggesting that it could undermine the country’s democratic process. Those who oppose this ruling are also motioning to remove Fujimori whose father, former President Alberto Fujimori, is imprisoned for corruption and authorizing death squads.
Those who have been watching the race closely have said that “this throws the April 10 contest into confusion.” At this moment, it does not appear to give Fujimori the strength to win the simple majority, but it makes it exceedingly more likely that she will debate a weaker candidate in the election.
The organization of American States is sending an observer to review the ruling. The observer expressed concern for the sudden and bold decision, comparing it to the likes of a political El Nino.
“In these remaining four weeks, we’re going to see a political El Nino, with floods of complaints lodged by politicians, a drought of proposals, inundations of economic resources, and heat waves in the exchanges among candidates,” political analyst Jorge Saldana Ramirez said.
Guzman had 17% of voters while Fujimori had 35%–upholding a strong lead throughout the race. Other candidates have not managed to poll above 10%.
Officials also disqualified candidate Cesar Acuna on Wednesday, who occupied fourth-place for much of the race.
In her past years, Fujimori lost the 2011 election to current President Ollanta Humala–only marginally differing in poll numbers. She struggled in that particular election because of her father’s political career as president.
Guzman was a moderate with a doctorate in in public policy from the University of Maryland, and previously worked as a deputy minister in Humala’s administration.
Recent polls show that it is unclear whether voters will be able to come to a consensus on who will face Fujimori. Moderates and leftists might find it difficult to put forth a candidate who will be capable of debating Fujimori.