has made its choice. Given the possibility of picking between a leftist, militaristic,
autocratic and nationalistic populist and a leftist, populist, charismatic, incompetent
manager, they chose the latter. In some sense, they chose democracy and
stability over the lack of freedom and instability. Garcia was responsible for
over the economic brink in the 80’s. He saved his party from oblivion then and
he did it again yesterday. Humala on the
other hand offered an unknown economic path and the shadow of Chaˇvez and
Morales hung over his election.
Both Garcia and Humala have many similarities to Hugo ChĂˇvez. Both are
populists who have little idea about economics and both lack a true economic
plan. Where Garcia has Chavez’ charisma and ability to mobilize crowds, Humala
has Chavez’ militaristic-nationalist and autocratic streak. Thus, the two
together would be almost be a Chavez clone, which shows that people like some of
the same features that I find so undesirable.
The main question now is whether Garcia learned anything from his first
Presidency. This will be very important in determining his success. In his
first presidency Garcia appointed a good first team to his Cabinet, who quickly
were replaced by part apparatchik and friends over time. This team was the one
that innovated time and time again on economic policy, leading to the well
known disaster in Peru’s
Can it be different this time? It is very hard to tell. While Garcia is
likely to try to be different, there will be lots of pressure from his party
APRA to involve party people in the Government. If Garcia can limit this, he
will have a higher probability of success. In some sense, both Fujimori and Toledo were more
successful, precisely because having no political parties behind them they had
to staff the Government with professionals, which have run ministries and other
offices much more efficiently than ever before. Maybe Garcia will do like
Carlos Andres Perez did in 1989 and do a complete turnaround from his first
In terms of the region, Garcia represents a huge counterbalance to
Chavez. Chavez is unlikely to stop picking fights with him, which in turn will
make Garcia more popular with his countrymen. This will put Humala in a tough
position, since it will force him not to participate in the controversies to keep his distance to Chavez, but
at the same time he needs to keep a high profile. Peruvians will also look towards Bolivia to
judge whether they made a mistake or not in leaning towards Garcia. The
performance of Morales will be key to a possible Humala charge in the future.
If Morales’ Government encounters problems, it will reflect badly on Humala, as
long as Garcia is not doing even worse.
For now, Peruvians made a choice between a rock and a hard place.
Hopefully Garcia will do what is best, will surround himself with competent
people and push his country forward both economically and socially. That is all
we can hope for now.