Mario Vargas Llosa vs the giant magical guinea pig

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hello again, sorry for not writing much. It has been a busy week. It has also been a fascinating week of elections but, I’m afraid this is going to be a somewhat cursory review as time is pressing. Fortunately some really good stuff has been written about most of these elections so I can point you at that. I’m going to do results first, then previews.

First up, if you remember, was Benin. This is the most straightforward at they didn’t happen. Following much debate about preparation and process the polls have been pushed back to April 30th.

Next up – Djibouti. To nobody’s surprise Gulleh won by 80% on a 75% turnout. Allegedly. No details yet on the parliamentary polls but in a one party state they scarcely matter.

Now to some much more interesting elections. Nigeria could yet be the election of the year. I don’t have time to go into it as fully as I’d like but I urge you to peruse Think Africa Press’s mini site in detail. Here are the headlines:

  • The PDP suffered there worst result in modern times – suggesting that these elections were the freest and fairest in some time – arguably ever. However they are still on course for an outright majority in parliament.
  • However their poor showing could be a worry to presidential candidate Goodluck Jonathan (the first round election is tomorrow). To avoid a second round, Jonathan needs not only 50% overall but at least 25% in at least two thirds of states. Whilst the PDP just about managed that, Jonathan is personally unpopular in the north – who feel that a northerner should have been the Presidential candidate this time.
  • Nevertheless, hopes for an upset opposition Presidential victory were dealt a severe blow when the muted alliance between the ACN and the CPC appeared to fall apart. Neither really had the breadth of support to take on Jonathan alone and the collapse of the alliance means that only a second round would make an opposition victory possible.
  • For me the biggest story of the campaign was the collapse of the ANPP. The ANPP used to be the only real opposition party of any size, and it was expected that any reduction in support for the PDP would benefit them. However, as with the Arab Spring, it appears that in Nigeria hard-line Islamic conservatism is quite popular when it is the only thing opposing a severe autocrat – but give the people a genuine choice and they’d rather go for a secular liberal party. That appears to be what happened here, and it was the ACN (in the south) and the CPC (in the north) that picked up most of the seats the PDP lost. The ANPP collapsed to a humiliating fourth place.

Finally, but certainly not least, Peru. Another fascinating election which I don’t have time to go into detail on, but I would urge you to read World Election’s comprehensive piece on it.

The headlines are that, after a very open Presidential election, we are set for a Humala (left wing Amerindian nationalist) vs Fujimori (right wing Peruvian nationalist) run off. As World Elections analyse in detail, this is somewhat hard to predict as these are the two most polarizing and alienating of the candidates – many Peruvians will consider it a Hobson’s choice. Moreover, whilst the candidates have radically different politics, both appeal to the same group – the rural poor – and urban and middle class people do feel somewhat distanced from the process. Parliamentary election results followed the Presidential pattern – with the APRA predictably falling apart due to their not fielding of a Presidential candidate and their general train wreck of a last five years.

People have reacted in various ways to this. Mario Vargas Llosa has described the choice as equivalent to the choice between “AIDS and terminal cancer”. Whilst this sums up the views of many it is somewhat undermined by the fact that Mario Vargas Llosa says this kind of thing all the time. If you asked Mario Vargas Llosa if he’d rather have the chicken or the fish he’d probably tell you the choice was equivalent to the choice between AIDS and terminal cancer. Mario Vargas Llosa is a strange and bitter man.

The Peruvian Chica Bank have taken a different approach. They have launched an advertising campaign aimed around alleviating the stress and worry surrounding the elections. The tag line is “Preocuparte no debes” (worrying, you shouldn’t). Here it is:

Previews

Tomorrow is round one of the Nigerian Presidential elections. As mentioned above it is going to be a doozy.

Then on Sunday we have Finland. Another doozy, Chris Terry from Britain Votes will be writing a piece shortly but in the meantime the main point is that it is a very open election, held under PR, and as a result lots of parties have the ability to make an impact.

One party that might benefit are the slightly odd euro-skeptic rural populist True Finns. They normally get about 4% of the vote but are currently polling at around 15%.  They are taking advantage of the highly open nature of Finnish PR to win seats by standing eccentric and charismatic personalities as candidates. Set to be True Finn MPs (and in some cases already serving) are a pro wrestler, a musician famous for his beret, and this man:

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