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Peru votes for Congress amid battle over anti-graft reform

January 26, 2020

Both President Vizcarra's supporters and disgraced lawmaker Keiko Fujimori's opposition Popular Force party received less than 15% of the vote in Sunday's elections, according to early polls. Fujimori is awaiting trial.

An indigenous woman casts her vote in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Image: AFP/G. Caso Bizama

No clear winner has emerged in Peru, according to early counts from the National Office of Electoral Processes on Monday morning. At least 10 mainly centrists parties have won seats, with none gaining more than 15% of the vote.

The early counts took into account exit polls and the first 30% of the votes that were counted.

Peruvians had taken to the polls on Sunday in the country's first legislative election to be held separately from a presidential ballot. President Martin Vizcarra was hoping his allies would garner strong enough support to end his struggle with the previous parliament over his proposed anti-corruption reforms.

The new parliament will serve for only about a year until the next presidential vote 15 months from now, but President Vizcarra was aiming for the party of disgraced opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, Popular Force, to lose seats after it spent months stymying his plan for sweeping new anti-graft measures.

Lima Mayor Jorge Munoz, a member of Fujimori's party, tweeted that the result marks "the start of real change."

Early polls now show that Popular Force have gained less than 15% of the vote. They had held an absolute majority of 73 out of the 130 seats, but it these results show a major tumble as Fujimori awaits trial for allegedly accepting $1.2 million in illegal campaign contributions from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

She has already served 13 months in pre-trial detention and a judge will decide on Tuesday whether or not to send her back to jail until the trial begins.

Keiko Fujimori goes to cast her vote
Keiko Fujimori goes to cast her vote Image: AP/M. Mejia

Voters disillusioned 

Voters in the capital Lima turned up in droves even hours before the doors opened, despite an atmosphere of disillusionment after Odebrecht said it had bribed four previous presidents.

One woman who was mulling her vote told DW that she was skeptical about the choices on offer. "The amount of lawsuits in legal proceedings these candidates are involved in is shocking."

However, one man said he felt the electorate was better informed than in previous elections. "Let's hope we do better," he said. "It's true the candidates are old members of congress, but there are some new people as well."

Fujimori's father, former president Alberto Fujimori, who has been convicted on multiple counts of corruption and human rights abuses and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Vizcarra became president in March 2018, having served as vice president under President Pedro Kuczynkski, who stepped down after videos leaked showing him allegedly in the act of vote-buying. Vizcarra is not aligned with any one political party and will have to form alliances in the new Congress in order to get his reforms passed.

Final results are expected to be announced later on Monday.

Peru to vote in a new Congress

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ed,es/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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