Peruvian president says “no way” to election postponement

election peru pandemic
Street in Lima. Photo: Joel Salvador/Shutterstock

In Chile, a recent surge of coronavirus cases forced the government to reinstate lockdown measures for 70 percent of the population and call for the postponement of the April 10-11 constitutional assembly election, pushing the vote back until May. Meanwhile, neighbors Peru have their own Covid-19 crisis and presidential elections are scheduled for April 11. Caretaker President Francisco Sagasti, however, has ruled out any possibility of postponing the vote.

“No way,” Mr. Sagasti told reporters. “The situations in Peru and Chile are different. It’s much more complicated in Chile. Plus, elections in Chile are not presidential elections, it’s an election for a Constitutional Assembly.”

The two countries are facing similar problems with the coronavirus pandemic, but the political risks of postponing the election in Peru are enormous, considering the country’s perpetual state of turmoil in recent years.

Mr. Sagasti took office in mid-November amid a massive political crisis. He was the country’s third different president in the space of a week, after Congress ousted Martín Vizcarra and his replacement, Manuel Merino, was driven out by waves of protests.

Ten days prior to Election Day, the Peruvian electoral scenario looks as open-ended as possible. The field is highly fragmented and the leading candidates are unable to gather much support. According to a Datem poll, a total of five presidential hopefuls are in a statistical tie for second, vying to face frontrunner Yonhy Lescano in a run-off vote.