Peruvian political theater

With only two weeks having passed since being inaugurated and beginning his second chance at running the country, Peru’s Alan Garcia shouldn’t be surprised that the presidential honeymoon is still going strong. Nonetheless, his approval rating of 71.8 percent is pretty impressive, considering that his first time in the driver’s seat (1985-1990) ended when he ...

607496_garcia.thumbnail5.jpg
607496_garcia.thumbnail5.jpg

With only two weeks having passed since being inaugurated and beginning his second chance at running the country, Peru's Alan Garcia shouldn't be surprised that the presidential honeymoon is still going strong. Nonetheless, his approval rating of 71.8 percent is pretty impressive, considering that his first time in the driver's seat (1985-1990) ended when he ignominiously fled Peru under charges of corruption, after guiding the country into near civil war with the Shining Path guerillas while the economy went into four-digit inflation. If Garcia can keep up even a middling approval rating, it'll be fair to call his return to office the most successful (and theatrical) political comeback Latin America has seen for a long time.

His return to grace is even more incredible if you recall that Peruvians weren't too happy with either of their candidates just a short time before the election in June--some likened their electoral options to a choice between cancer and AIDS. (It wasn't clear which one Garcia was supposed to be.) 

With only two weeks having passed since being inaugurated and beginning his second chance at running the country, Peru’s Alan Garcia shouldn’t be surprised that the presidential honeymoon is still going strong. Nonetheless, his approval rating of 71.8 percent is pretty impressive, considering that his first time in the driver’s seat (1985-1990) ended when he ignominiously fled Peru under charges of corruption, after guiding the country into near civil war with the Shining Path guerillas while the economy went into four-digit inflation. If Garcia can keep up even a middling approval rating, it’ll be fair to call his return to office the most successful (and theatrical) political comeback Latin America has seen for a long time.

His return to grace is even more incredible if you recall that Peruvians weren’t too happy with either of their candidates just a short time before the election in June–some likened their electoral options to a choice between cancer and AIDS. (It wasn’t clear which one Garcia was supposed to be.) 

What’s even more intriguing, though, is the Peruvian public’s bleak appraisal of the political fortunes of Garcia’s principal opponent in the election, the nationalist leader Ollanta Humala. Humala raked in a respectable 47.5 percent of the vote in the election, yet now a whopping 83 percent of Peruvians say he has little or no political future–that despite his new role as leader of the opposition alliance, which holds more seats than any other party in the national legislature. Humala’s backing by Hugo Chávez may also be hurting his image.

Perhaps Humala would do well to take a page out of Garcia’s book: Do something utterly disastrous for the country, flee in shame, then claim self-reform and run for president again in 15 years. At least it will make for good theater.

Ben Fryer is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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