[UPDATED] The Peruvian second round tomorrow has drawn so much ink (and even some blood) that one would expect a distant observer to pull his hairs in agony at how come a country has reached such lows. But if indeed the lows have been reached, surprisingly at the end the choice of lesser evil has turned out to be simpler than expected.
I am not going to rehash what has been rehashed hundreds of times, about Humala coup mongering past or Keiko tainted associations. After all, if Vargas Llosa has been willing to make a fool of himself repeatedly on that matter there is no need for others to follow in his path.
What has been the clincher for me where the interviews granted on the same day to Patricia Janiot of CÑÑ by both candidate. I watched them last night. I did not like any of the two but it was very, very clear that Keiko Fujimori has a better grasp of issues, a more consistent and coherent thought process, and a better body language than Humala, no question about that.
And if I add some cynicism, whatever system Keiko Fujimoro might be secretly planning we already know how to get out of it with minimum damage and a functioning economy. Ollanta Humala system will eventually be even worse than the one of Chavez because the guy is clearly less able than Chavez to emotionally control the forces that his tenure will undoubtedly try to unleash. In a country without the constant oil spigot of Venezuela to smooth over the major mistakes, Ollanta Humala is a sure road to misery, a return to some of the old Velasco Alvarado era knee jerk reflexes, and a higher potential for civil war than Keiko, who, let's not forget it, cannot introduce the racial card to her politics the way a Chavez did or an Humala surely will do.
In other words, Peru could survive better a Keiko stint than an Ollanta stint and this is enough reason to vote for Keiko Fujimori. Let's hope that enough people in Peru understand that while they hold their nose and vote.
An interesting late development. Opinion polls seem to have suddenly changed their trends. And I mean suddenly. Last Wednesday Keiko was generally ahead and tonight, even if it is illegal to publish them in Peru, the net is abuzz with polls favoring Humala, a 1 to 3 points shift in not even 48 hours. Certainly all polls were coinciding in that many people were still undecided this late in the game. That very late Toledo went over to Humala must have done something to change but such a brusk change?
The thing is that such late polls when things are so close tend to be rather inaccurate and can change equally fast by tomorrow morning, when such a polarization exists. The more so that no matter what, last Wednesday as well as today the difference between Keiko and Ollanta was in the statistical error of the poll which basically means they have no idea what is really going on.
More interestingly, and even more so for Venezuela, is that with such a tiny and volatile difference it might be the vote of Peruvians outside that might decide the winner! And in the first round Keiko was ahead, significantly. There is a major lesson there for the Venezuelan opposition, to demand that the CNE gets serious about publishing embassy votes and allowing Venezuelans living overseas to register and vote.
As for Peru, such a close election might be a godsend: when you win with 51% on a second round ballot, you have no mandate. No matter which one wins, with a legislative assembly where both will have trouble to create a stable majority, such a hair thin victory might be the best way to force them to respect democracy as the other half will be on its guard from day one. Humala will not be able to call for a constitutional assembly referendum that he could well lose and ruin his presidency from the start, and Keiko would have to thread a fine line if she wants to hire some of the employees of her father that will not be received in the Assembly if they dare show up to ask for legislation.
My prediction? I think Humala will win but by 1% at most. That is, a 50.5 to 49.5 painful victory. And no, I am not taking any bets.