Lima Mayor Wins Partial Victory in Recall Referendum

By Jana, Elsa Chanduvi | NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs, March 29, 2013 | Go to article overview

Lima Mayor Wins Partial Victory in Recall Referendum


Jana, Elsa Chanduvi, NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs


"Today in Lima unity has prevailed, and while official results are not yet ready, what can be said with complete confidence is that today no one lost, Lima won," said Mayor Susana Villaran after hearing the results of the recall referendum against her and the 39 members of the metropolitan council.

Nearly 3 million Limenos--82% of eligible voters --participated in the March 17 referendum in which Villaran, the first woman to serve as mayor of Peru's capital city, emerged victorious, but she will face a unique situation: she will have lost almost all the councilors from her coalition.

On March 19, the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE) released partial results after processing 54% of the ballots cast. Those results showed the "No" option winning, with 51% of voters opting against recalling the mayor, from the leftist coalition Fuerza Social (FS), and 48% voting "Yes."

The preliminary results also indicated that 21 councilors would be recalled, 19 from the FS and 2 from Solidaridad Nacional, the party led by Luis Castaneda Lossio, Villaran's predecessor. If those results hold, new municipal elections would have to be held around November 2013 to choose new councilors for those recalled. In the meantime, they will be replaced by their alternates.

To finalize the official results, the ONPE must review the remaining 46% of ballots that were observed but not officially counted. This will take about one month. Election officials say that the final result will not affect the mayor's outcome, but it will confirm which councilors will be recalled.

Villaran said that her municipal administration would work for all Limenos, whether they voted for or against the recall. She said that she is meeting with district authorities to work together on the urgent problems facing citizens in her jurisdiction.

"As the metropolitan authority, I have a duty to everyone, and that is what I want to convey to them.

They have a mayor to initiate public works, to work with the district mayors, all together, united, to do things better, more quickly, and we will do so for the benefit of the residents," Villaran told the press.

One or more contingencies

Villaran took office for a four-year term on Jan. 1, 2011, and practically the next day a recall campaign began, headed by lawyer Marco Tulio Gutierrez, the front for Solidaridad Nacional, whose leader Castaneda Lossio faces corruption allegations (NotiSur, Nov. 30, 2012).

Although throughout the recall process, Castaneda Lossio never admitted that he was carrying the baton for the campaign, various audio tapes released by journalist Rosa Maria Palacios on her television program two days before the referendum made it clear that the former mayor was running the recall effort through Gutierrez, Solidaridad Nacional Deputy Jose Luna Galvez, and others.

Backers of the recall effort received support from former President Alan Garcia of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA, Partido Aprista Peruano), while those calling for a No vote were backed by leftist parties and unions as well as rightist leaders such as former presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczinsky, former President Alejandro Toledo of Peru Posible (PP), the longtime former leader of the Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC) Luis Bedoya Reyes and the current PPC leader Lourdes Flores Nano, who ran against Villaran in the 2010 mayoral election. For those calling for a No vote, what was at stake in the recall was democratic institutionality.

Until two weeks before the referendum--which cost approximately US$40 million--polls indicated a victory for the Yes vote, but that began to change rapidly just ahead of the balloting. …

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