The Presidential Peruvian elections were Sunday, April 10 and whichever candidate you happen to support, it’s worth to look at the system that Peru has in place to encourage good voting turnout numbers. For starters, they hold elections on a weekend, NOT on a working day like we do here in the U.S. Why on earth we still hold elections on a Tuesday is beyond me: makes no sense whatesoever. They also have a system in place so that if no candidate gets more than half of the total popular vote (absolute majority), the first and second place candidates go on a second round (which safeguards a multi-party system, preventing a two-party system rule from taking hold like we have here in the U.S.). Lastly, voting is mandatory, even for Peruvians living abroad: if they miss voting, they get a fine next time they re-enter the country.
Sure, those rules alone do NOT ensure eradication of corruption and election fraud, let alone prevent propaganda funded by big powerful moneyed interests from demonizing populist candidates. Just take a look at what happened in the last Mexican elections of 2006: even with public financing in place and limits on negative campaigning, there were still widespread allegations of election fraud. Here’s a warning to advocates of election reform measures: just because good laws are in place, it doesn’t mean that they will be enforced; without a good enforcing mechanism, laws that are supposed to protect election integrity will more likely than not get trampled on, just take a look at what really happened behind the scenes in the Mexican 2006 elections.
Independently of all the problems of corruption inherent in the game of politics, one cannot help but express admiration at Peru’s voting rules: if only we held elections here in the U.S. on a weekend so that one didn’t miss work or if only we at least had Instant Runoff Voting so that we had an actual third party with real possibilities of winning rather than being a “waste of your vote”, then our voting system wouldn’t be as dysfunctional as it sometimes is.
I happen to be a Mexican-American but ever since I traveled to Peru to do volunteer work through Volunteers for Peace, Peru has always had a special place in my heart:
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing a progressive perspective on the Peruvian elections, I highly recommend you check out the Peruanista blog here. Good luck Peru, I wish you a good outcome in this year’s Presidential elections!
Update: for a thorough take on the Peruvian elections from an LGBT point of view, check out this Blabbeando post.