Alessandra Martinez Rosales
A few weeks away from the 2021 General Elections, we find ourselves in the very well-known presidential candidates' "campaign season". Considering this, we are increasingly exposed to televised interviews, campaign meetings, and, above all, to many scandals that jeopardize the competitiveness of candidates to the presidency.
Considering that Peru has gone through a serious political crisis in the previous year, as Peruvian citizens, we must be properly informed of the events that may influence the elections, pending proposals and upcoming regulatory changes.
According to the recent Ipsos national urban- rural survey on voting intentions of presidential candidates, these are the first four places in the national anti-vote list: Ollanta Humala of Partido Nacionalista (73%), Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza Popular (71%), César Acuña of Alianza para el Progreso (62%) and Julio Guzmán (52%) (El Comercio, 2021).
It becomes interesting to reflect on the main reasons why well-known politicians, such as Ollanta Humala, Keiko Fujimori, César Acuña and Julio Guzmán, went from being the favorites in past years, to now being the Presidential candidates with the least support, with more than 50% of the anti-vote.
1. Ollanta Humala
The first place belongs to former President Ollanta Humala. He is currently in criminal proceedings for the Lava Jato case for the alleged crime of money laundering. A crime which led him to pre-trial detention alongside his wife and former First Lady, Nadine Heredia.
In 2011, the Humala-Heredia couple, together with the Peruvian Nationalist Party, won the Presidential Elections. They reaced victory in the second electoral round with 51.45% of the valid votes (La Vanguardia, 2011). After his government ended in 2016, investigations began against him for receiving illicit money for his presidential campaigns: (i) From the government of Venezuela for the 2006 presidential campaign; and (ii) From Odebrecht and OAS to finance the presidential campaign of 2011. Moreover, it is also argued that they allocated part of that money for their personal use, and it is estimated that the presidential couple would have received around US $ 3 million dollars by the Brazilian construction company according to the statements of Jorge Barata, former executive director of Odebrecht. (IDEHPUCP, 2019).
Recently, his candidacy for the Nationalist Party was announced. The same party for which he was launched in previous years, and which is facing a dissolution request for the alleged crime of money laundering. It is worth wondering if the large amount of money supposedly received from Brazil and Venezuela by the Nationalist Party and the increase in assets of those investigated were justified. If he were elected this year, how would his status as an investigated person change with the presidential immunity that he would enjoy if elected.
2. Keiko Fujimori
Keiko Fujimori Higuchi is currently under investigation by the Public Prosecutor's Office for the alleged crimes of money laundering, obstruction of justice, criminal organization, false declaration, procedural fraud and generic falsehood.
Since she lost the elections to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) in 2016, Keiko Fujimori became the leader of the opposition. This event caused a series of continuous confrontations that concluded with PPK's resignation from the presidency, which today is taking its toll on her.
In March 2017, Martin Vizcarra succeeded PPK in the presidency and Fujimori also confronted him from the Congress. As a consequence, Vizcarra decided to constitutionally close that State power in 2019 and call to elections. Additionally, Fujimori was also deprived of her liberty in prison. There have also been continuous petitions of the public prosecutor Jose Domingo Pérez before the Lima Court on the suspension of her party, and the repeated contradictions she had regarding the pardon of her father Alberto Fujimori.
This is how 45-year-old Keiko Fujimori Higuchi, despite everything, is running for her third postulation to the Presidential Elections of our country.
3. César Acuña
It can be said that Acuña has experience in politics. He has been Congressman of the Republic of Peru, Mayor of Trujillo, Regional Governor of La Libertad, and he is currently President of the political party Alianza para el Progreso. However, his campaign has been marked by controversy. He was accused of plagiarism in both, his master’s, and doctoral theses, at the University of Lima and the Complutense University of Madrid, respectively. Although he denied the accusations, the universities opened investigations against him. In the midst of the scandal, he was also accused of plagiarizing an entire work titled Política educativa, originally written by a former professor of his, Otoniel Alvarado. Acuña claimed that both authors had agreed to publish the work together under separate authorships. Nevertheless, Alvarado denied any kind of agreement and proceeded to publicly denounce him for plagiarism. It is in that moment that his now famous phrase comes to light: "It is not plagiarism, it is copying".
His presidential nomination was excluded from the 2016 elections, in which Alianza para el Progreso (APP) only obtained 9.2% of the popular vote at the parliamentary level, and 9 of the 130 seats in the Peruvian Congress. However, after the closing of the Congress, and the new congressional elections, APP won 22 seats out of 130. These last results show that its position before the vacancy of former President Vizcarra played an important role, which is nowadays is being reflected in the citizens' voting intentions.
4. Julio Guzmán
This is the second time that Julio Guzmán has participated in the presidential elections. In the 2016 elections he was excluded from the process due to problems in the change of party statutes. Despite the fact that Guzmán was one of the favorite candidates in the 2016 elections, he has since lost credibility due to recent scandals related to his personal life.
Recently, the Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation against Julio Guzmán for an alleged contribution of US $ 400 thousand from Odebrecht to his electoral campaign. Regarding this, Guzmán described this accusation as false. So far, there are no further details of the case, but that does not mean that this investigation has been completely closed (Expreso, 2020).
After this short reflection and reminder of what has happened in recent years, we can reach to the conclusion that Peruvians tend to decide first for whom they are not going to vote for. They discard those who do not convince or favor them, and as a consequence, choose by a process of elimination.
This situation, added to the fact that the public eye and the press are focused on the evolution of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country, may lead us to a worse scenario in April 2021. We no longer see as much media agglomeration as in previous years in the electoral campaign displays, which exposes us to ignorance and lack of information being, once again, Peru's worst enemy.
 Likewise, Prosecutor Pérez has requested the dissolution of the party of Keiko Fujimori as well as that of former president Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) called the "Peruvian Nationalist Party." Both political leaders seek to run for Presidency in April 2021.  Acuña Peralta maintained that in the case of the book by his university professor Otoniel Alvarado, he did not incur in plagiarism but in copying. "About Professor Otoniel: it is not plagiarism, it is copying," he said, referring to the fact that the original book was published in 1999 and reprinted in 2002. "It is the teacher's word versus my word," added the presidential candidate. Accessed February 17, 2016.
El Comercio. (2021). El Comercio-Ipsos: Ollanta Humala, Keiko Fujimori, César Acuña y Julio Guzmán lideran el antivoto. Recovered from: https://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/el-comercio-ipsos-ollanta-humala-keiko-fujimori-cesar-acuna-y-julio-guzman-lideran-el-antivoto-elecciones-2021-noticia/
Expreso (2020). Fiscalía abre investigación a Julio Guzmán por supuesto aporte de US$ 400 mil de Odebrecht a su campaña electoral. Recovered from: https://www.expreso.com.pe/judicial/fiscalia-abre-investigacion-a-julio-guzman-por-aporte-de-us-400-mil-de-odebrecht-a-su-campana/
IDEH PUCP (2019). Reporte caso Humala-Heredia. Recovered from: https://idehpucp.pucp.edu.pe/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/reporte-humala-y-heredia-actualizacion-30-01-19.pdf
La Vanguardia (2011). Ollanta Humala gana las elecciones presidenciales en Perú. Recovered from: https://www.lavanguardia.com/internacional/20110606/54166663346/ollanta-humala-gana-las-elecciones-presidenciales-en-peru.html
RRPP (2020). Julio Guzmán sobre caso de incendio en Miraflores: No hubo infidelidad, las explicaciones ya las tiene mi esposa. Recovered from: https://rpp.pe/politica/actualidad/julio-guzman-sobre-caso-de-incendio-en-miraflores-no-hubo-infidelidad-las-explicaciones-ya-las-tiene-mi-esposa-noticia-1240536
ABC Internacional (2020) Keiko Fujimori se inscribe para postular por tercera vez a la presidencia de Perú . Recovered from:https://www.abc.es/internacional/abci-keiko-sofia-fujimori-inscribe-para-postular-tercera-presidencia-peru-202012210235_noticia.html
Espinoza, Carlos (17 de febrero de 2016). César Acuña sobre el libro: “No es plagio, es copia. RPP. Consultado el 4 de diciembre de 2020.Recovered from https://rpp.pe/politica/elecciones/cesar-acuna-sobre-libro-no-es-plagio-es-copia-noticia-938914