INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Regional Elections: Apra Down and Humala Out Amid

Published: Tue 21 Nov 2006 10:29 PM
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SUBJECT: REGIONAL ELECTIONS: APRA DOWN AND HUMALA OUT AMID
FRAGMENTED POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
REF: LIMA 4422 AND PREVIOUS
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Summary:
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1. (U) Independent local groups won the majority of regional
presidencies and mayorships in Peru's 11/19 elections.
Former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala's Peruvian
Nationalist Party was all but wiped out and APRA lost
significant ground, holding on to only three Regional
Presidencies. Three fast-rising candidates bucked the
anti-incumbent trend: Lima Mayor Luis Casteneda, Callao
Region President-elect Alex Kouri, and Lambayeque Regional
President Yehude Simon. The election results leave a
fragmented political landscape, but most observers expect
that President Garcia will negotiate successfully with the
regional presidents, whose governments depend on the GOP for
financing. End Summary.
2. (U) Several important trends emerge from Peru's regional
and municipal elections:
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Fragmentation Continues
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3. (U) The majority of winning candidates came from
independent local political organizations that defeated the
national parties and turned out most incumbents. Winners
emerged from fields with multiple candidates, most winning
with less than 30 percent of the vote, making for tenuous
mandates in many cases.
-----------------------
Humala All But Vanishes
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4. (U) Former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala's
Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP) took no regional
presidencies and only one major mayor slot, in Arequipa,
Peru's second largest city. Even that triumph, however, is
less than it might appear. Arequipa's mayor-elect Simon
Balbuena is not so much an Humalista loyalist as a local
politician of long standing and oft-changing allegiances,
having previously been associated with President Fujimori
(refs). (The UPP, which informally broke from Humala's PNP
and ran separate candidates in most races, won the regional
presidency in the department of Cusco.)
5. (U) Ollanta Humala's nationalist party even lost to
members of the family clan. In Puno, once a bastion of
Humala support, Hernan Fuentes won the regional presidency
representing Avanza Pais, the party that backed the
unsuccessful camapigns of Humala's brothers, Ulises and
Antauro, for the presidency and congress last April. (Note:
Humala's post-election relations with his siblings have been
distant. End Note.)
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APRA Down
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6. (SBU) The ruling APRA party also fared poorly, winning
only three regional presidencies (Libertad, Moquegua and
Piura) -- a sharp drop from the 12 regions it controlled
before. APRA also lost the provincial mayorship of Trujillo,
the historical birthplace of the APRA and long a bastion of
party support. APRA leaders had predicted a poor showing,
even suggesting that regional elections have historically
gone against the party in power, but this result is somewhat
bleaker than most expected. Even so, APRA leaders are
putting a brave face on the outcome and focusing on the near
elimination of Humala as a factor in Peruvian politics.
--------------------
Key Independents Win
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7. (U) While the tide of localism washed out the major
parties and most incumbents, some familiar faces performed
well. Lima Mayor Luis Casteneda was re-elected with 48
percent of the vote, more than 30 points ahead of his next
closest rival, and the Unidad Nacional (UN) alliance that
supported him won 17 of 20 district mayorships in the Lima
Region. (Despite the impressive showing in Lima, UN
candidates did not score a single victory outside the
capital.) Alex Kouri, former Mayor of Callao, won the Callao
Regional Presidency with 50 percent. And Yehude Simon of the
left-oriented Humanist movement was re-elected Regional
President of Lambayeque with 46 percent.
8. (U) Casteneda, Kouri and Simon had all turned in solid
performances in their previous tenures. Casteneda and Kouri
are both known for public works, while Simon has
distinguished himself as a conciliator. Lima mayor
Casteneda's easy re-election sets him up for a possible run
for Peru's Presidency in 2011, but some believe that his
victory -- with less than 50% of the popular vote after a
polling high of over 60% -- reflects concerns about poor
financial management which could jeopardize his broader
political ambitions.
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Comment:
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9. (SBU) Incumbents, the national political parties
including APRA, and Humala were the big losers in the
regional elections. Despite APRA's losses, the central
government has plenty of cards to play in bargaining with
regional presidents and local mayors. Some observers believe
President Garcia might not mind the prospect of dealing with
a divided political landscape whose multiple leaders pose no
major challenge and depend on the GOP for program funding and
budget support. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo told the
Ambassador November 20 that the election results were so
dispersed that the national government was the only entity
left with the ability to project influence throughout the
country.
STRUBLE
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