Not only Peru was voting today, but also Portugal and in a way, for each continent, each election was as crucial.
In Peru, Humala, as expected won though by a little bit more than what I expected or hoped for. That is, he will get somewhere between 51 and 52% if we are to believe exit polls. A clear victory but not a decisive one and even less of a mandate. A quick survey of results show that Keiko Fujimori did better in more economically and educated areas (like Alan Garcia did 5 years ago). I am pessimistic because Humala is like Chavez, he needs a single vote more than the other side to think he can ramrod his ideas, wishes and fantasies over the country. We can only hope that in Peru big mouthed Vargas Llosa will leave his comforts of Madrid, peerage and all, to live at least 6 months a year in Lima monitoring and defending Peruvian democracy. In other words, we want Vargas Llosa to put up.
And yet, it leaves me with a bitter taste. Not that Humala won. He was not much worse than Keiko Fujimori who was no prize herself and failed to break free from her Fujimorista entourage the way Humala did from his leftist racist nationalist entourage for the campaign, to attract Toledo and Vargas Llosa. Certainly she would have been on paper a much better president than Humala will be, but on paper, which does not win votes were emotions and symbols carry the day at the end. She failed to produce the symbol that Humala, on the very last days produced by having Toledo attend his campaign closing rally.
No, my bitterness is the realization once again that in Latin America democracy is far, far from being entrenched and the main reason is that as a continent we do not value democracy (except for a few honorable cases). We only seek the one that is more likely to give us what we need at the least possible cost for us. The victories of people like Chavez, Humala or the coming one in Nicaragua by the rapist Ortega are victories based on the ignorance of the people and their non democratic nature in the end, their perception that only a strong leader, a cacique, will include them in the tribe that will provide them of the necessary goods they crave. Let's not forget that in the first round, Keiko and Ollanta, both with very questionable democratic credentials carried more than 50% of the vote.... The Peruvian people made their choice then, not today.
Must we subscribe to the saying that countries get the government they deserve?
Across the Atlantic things were very different in Portugal. Teetering on the verge of bankruptcy the country voted to punish the Socialist government that for 6 years led the people to believe that Portugal was on the fast track to progress. It was not and tonight prime Minster Socrates resigned from any further political career. That the right scored a large victory is not only a punishment for the social democrats, it is also an acknowledgment that the country is expecting a period of austerity, hard times ahead, and they trust more the center right parties of the country to carry it with more efficiency.
The Portuguese results could have gone otherwise. After all with the pseudo European revolt exemplified with the "indignados" who are wrecking small shopkeeper at La Puerta del Sol in Madrid, upset Portuguese could well have voted for the green and leftist parties. But they dropped also, by 4%. The communist who are of an hereditary affiliation nature in Portugal retained their numbers.
In other words, earthy common sense Portuguese know very well that chanting for weeks in major squares of Athens or Madrid is not what will take a country out of recession.
In Portugal they consciously voted for hard work and tough years, in Peru they voted for reckless experimentation and "gimme!". Let's compare GDP and Human Development Index evolution for the next three years.....