(Bloomberg) – Peru and Mexico will hold elections on Sunday with voters in Latin America angered by the economic devastation left by the pandemic and the mismanagement of the health crisis.
In Peru, the election in a second presidential round is between Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of an autocrat accused of corruption, and Pedro Castillo, a radical from a Marxist party practically unknown at the beginning of the year.
In Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, faces his greatest test of a six-year presidency in legislatures in which his party and allies will try to maintain a supermajority in the lower house of Congress. Fifteen state governorates are also up for grabs, along with local positions.
Read more: Mexico’s midterms are the most important test so far for AMLO’s ambitious agenda
The campaign has been violent even by Mexican standards, with dozens of candidates assassinated, kidnapped and threatened.
For Latin America as a whole, Sunday’s elections could anticipate the direction in which other countries may be going, as establishment parties lose support and outsiders gain ground with promises to spend more to tackle rising poverty. .
Chile, Colombia, Brazil
In other parts of the region, a group of independents and leftists will rewrite Chile’s constitution and a communist candidate is the pioneer in the polls ahead of the November elections.
Colombia, which has been rocked by violent street protests sparked by a failed attempt to raise taxes, will elect a new government in the first half of 2022. Early polls show a former leftist guerrilla at the helm.
In Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is on a wave of discontent over Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic to lead the polls as he considers a race next year.
Latin America has long been among the most unequal regions in the world, but that gap has grown since the pandemic hit and vaccination campaigns began slowly. Lawmakers have seized on anger to pass new wealth taxes and free up tens of billions of dollars from private pension funds.
Governments are running bigger deficits, seeing their credit ratings cut, and fighting a spike in inflation.
In Peru, investors fear decades of macroeconomic stability are at stake. Fujimori promises to maintain investor confidence, maintain law and order, and increase payments to families affected by Covid-19. Castillo wants to extract more taxes from multinational oil drilling and mining companies to spend more on education and healthcare.
Castillo’s top economic adviser, Pedro Francke, said this week that the candidate would pay off the nation’s debt, respect the autonomy of the central bank and has no plans to nationalize Peru’s mining sector. But many investors are skeptical. Fujimori has led his campaign by telling voters that Castillo will turn Peru into the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez.
Read more: Elites tremble as Peruvian leftists capitalize on anger over rising inequality
Peru’s markets have rocked wildly in the past two months, with a selloff every time Castillo won in polls. The sun has weakened 6% since the first round on April 11, the biggest drop among major emerging markets during the period.
Peru’s campaign was also rocked by violence when 16 people were massacred in a remote village by what authorities said was an offshoot of the Maoist guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso. Fujimori has called for a hard line with the movement and his campaign received a boost from the event.
In addition to the political and financial drama, Peru recently acknowledged that the official death toll from Covid was almost three times the previous figure, which means that some 180,000 people have died from the disease in a country of 32 million.
In Mexico, López Obrador appears to have escaped the ire of voters over the health crisis that has caused 228,000 deaths, the fourth-highest total in the world, as well as the worst economic recession since the 1930s. However, despite From strong personal ratings, voters consider his government to have performed poorly on the economy and security.
READ MORE: Mexico’s midterms are the most important test so far for AMLO’s ambitious agenda
A good result for López Obrador could mean retaining a supermajority in the Lower House that could allow him to reverse the privatization of the energy sector.
The polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm local time in Peru, and from 8 am to 8 pm in Mexico. Preliminary results are expected in both countries later Sunday night.
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