Last week, citizens in Mexico and Peru cast ballots for their elections in a context of uncertainty due to the pandemic and political violence that characterized the days prior to the vote.
In Mexico, a historically massive election took place on Sunday June 6, set to renew incumbency in the Lower House, 15 state governments, and other local positions. On the day of the poll, episodes of violence were reported. However, violence had already tarnished the political campaign, with a staggering 83 politicians having been killed between September 2020 and May 2021.
Morena – Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party - comprises, alongside the Green Party and the Labor Party, the Together We Make History alliance (Juntos Hacemos Historia), which lost seats to the opposing alliance, It is for Mexico (Va por México). The latter alliance clusters opposition parties Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN), and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although the exact figures have not been released, preliminary results rendered a less than ideal outcome in Congress for Lopez Obrador. The president hoped for a two-thirds majority to advance constitutional changes aimed at rolling back reforms opening the energy sector to private investment and overhauling autonomous institutions — one of which is the National Electoral Institute (INE), harshly criticized by the president. Still, Morena managed to maintain the majority in the Lower House of Congress and, despite discontent from some of his voters, the president still enjoys 60 percent of approval and out of the 15 Mexican states where governor seats were up for grabs, the party won 11.
The mishandling of the pandemic – epitomized by the president’s initial refusal to wear a mask - the economic situation, and the impossibility to fulfill the promise on reducing violence rates seem to have been factors hindering the two-third majority goal AMLO had for the chamber.
In the case of Peru, a second presidential round came after the vote in April, which had Pedro Castillo, leftist school teacher and union leader, leading with 19.1 percent for his Free Peru party, followed by right-wing Keiko Fujimori’s Popular force with 13.4 percent. Pending confirmation of Castillo’s victory from Peru’s electoral authority, it is only with a slim majority that he will be sworn in as president this July, mirroring a highly polarized electorate in a context that, especially since last year’s destitution of former president Vizcarra, has been signed by tensions. However, the polarization and the critical economic situation heightened by the pandemic dim the prospects of an easing of tensions. The Sol, currency of the Andean country, has plummeted as the results of the election began to loom in favour of the socialist candidate.
While Castillo and Fujimori have run their campaigns on contrasting programs, their stance on the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights is similarly conservative, opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender equality-based education.
Similar to Mexico, political violence in the days leading up to the polls made its appearance with the guerrilla group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), killing 16 people. Pamphlets were laid out, warning people not to vote for either candidate in the run-off, highlighting a loaded political atmosphere.