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The Latin American elections of 2005 and 2006: the electoral process

Time (GMT +01) 15:00 17:30


John Crabtree, Research Associate to the Latin American Centre, University of Oxford
Timothy Power, University Lecturer in Brazilian Politics, University of Oxford
Laurence Whitehead, Official Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, University of Oxford


Alan Angell, University Lecturer in Latin American Politics, University of Oxford

John Crabtree - The Peruvian Elections

Outcomes of the elections:

1. Collapse of Peru Posible (Toledo´s party) and Frente Independiente Moralizador-FIM which did not present presidential candidates and PP did not even get 4% in the congressional elections, therefore no representatives in Congress of the current party.
2. Collapse of the traditional left (Izquierda Unida).
3. Resilience of Fujimorismo: her daughter was the most voted for Congress.
4. Elections have been a source of disappointment, especially for the right. Both in 2001 and 2006, the right has concerted effort with appealing candidates to widen its base but failed. Still seen as limeño.
5. Persistence of APRA in Peruvian elections. In 2001, Garcia almost won and now is running for second round with advantage.
6. Humala is not a new phenomenon.
7. Second round: Alan Garcia vs. Ollanta Humala. AG has an obscure past, however, it appears as a rather different Alan. Some degree of self-criticism.
8. In its discourse, it attacks specific attributes of neoliberalism. Strengths: good communicator, charismatic, has the only real political party in Party, has support of the right (Unidad Nacional), trying to create a cabinet with people from outside APRA, BUT needs to appeal different audiences. Humala has a military background, with a nationalist message, it has vague campaign, does not enter specific subjects, key point is against free trade agreements and foreign direct investment. It can be considered anti-system.
9. This situation reveals a lack of interest and appreciation of democracy, poor understanding of rights, negative evaluation of democratic institutions (political parties, Judiciary, Congress), a view of exploitation of the elites & deep pessimism about the prospects for change. There is a "desencanto democratico". He feeling of belonging to Peruvian politics is very weak. Toledo's failure to increase employment has exacerbated tensions and disenchantment with democracy and politics. It had low maneouvre in spite of economic growth.

Timothy Power - The Brazilian Elections

1. This is the largest election in LA, plebiscitary character.
2. Candidates: Lula 40%, PSDB; Alwin 12-15%, PMDB; Garoinho, PSOL; Helena 5-6% hard left.
3. Verticalisation: parties cannot have sub-national alliances that contradict their national alliance.
4. Garotinho was the only candidate that can take Lula, has populist evangelical support, But he was blocked by his own party, who has been very close to PT.
5. Control of municipalities are important for presidential elections. PT lost Sao Paulo.
6. PT has lost ethical image, defection of the party after corruption scandal. More educated hold Lula responsible of scandals more that others.
7. Lula has lost support in class A & B BUT gained in C, D & E.
8. In the economy, Lula has deliver economic growth, controlled inflation, strong appreciation of the Real, open unemployment has decreased. In social policy: cash transfers, assistance: 77% of families receiving government support "Bolsa Familia", purchasing power has increased, wages are 22% higher than in 2003.
9. Electorate campaign has been boring, no real central issues, it is about if they should change Lula. With Garotihno out of the race, it is likely that Lula will win the first round.

Laurence Whitehead - The Mexican Elections

1. With democratization: installation of a neutral system of vote counting, therefore the president has no loner control of the Congress, it is divided.
2. Campaign for presidency has been very long, since 2003.
3. Coalitions are needed after elections.
4. Congress has considerable power.
5. Campaign: 5 candidates, only 3 of which are important.
6. Front runner: Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD), former governor of DF, has a platform in federal district + representation in provinces. He campaigned against fraudulent PRI victory. It is identified with public works, high profile. Tensions between him and his party. PRD is the weakest of the 5 parties on voter intention: Obrador is running ahead his party. The large sections dismantled are attracted to discontinuity option: Obrador. BUT overtaken by PAN candidate Calderon, striking turnaround. Is it that party support for the PRD has gone done or is it that his additional support above the part has gone done? The latter. One of the reason for his fall in support it he turn down the 1st televised debate: left the chair empty.
7. Bernardo Calderon (PAN): associated with the North, roots in provincial business sector and Catholic Church, long established roots but uneven. Vote intention for him = for his party. Calderon has support from business. Negative campaigning against Obrador, associating him with Chavez, and populism. There is a "voto de miedo" against Obrador. Middle class voters: strong aversion to Obrador. Obrador s increasing reassuring to these sectors. Caledron has an important team, has attracted new/recycled group.
8. Roberto Madrazo (PRI): "todos unidos contra Madrazo". Defections from PRI to PRD. He has 8% down of voter intention for PRI, there are traditional pristas that wouldn't vote for Madrazo.
9. Conclusion: distinctive elections, intense competition.

Laurence Whitehead also gave a brief commentary on the Latin American elections in general.


The event discussed the electoral process in Latin America, with particular focus on Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru.