A New, Weaker Left in Latin America

The rebranding of Peru's president-elect, left-leaning populist Ollanta Humala, shows the wide spectrum of leftism in today's Latin America and how the most radical fold is waning.

What's the Latest Development?

If official tallies confirm the exit polls that show Peru's new president to be left-leaning populist Ollanta Humala, his challenger, Keiko Fujimori, says she will not demand a recount. Fujimori makes this promise despite having completed a hotly contested election which Humala is expected to win with 51.3% of the vote to Fujimori's 48.7%. But while the race was tight, it was not especially ideological: "Humala, once a fiery leftist promising to guard against any kind of "neoliberal" agenda, has refashioned himself as a moderate leftist, appealing to a Peru that has seen tremendous economic growth over the past decade."

What's the Big Idea?

Does Humala represent the South American continent's disillusionment with politicians like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, or is Humala's acquiescence to market reforms now the best the left can do? What is sure is that Humala toned down his rhetoric substantially during his successful campaign, promising wealth redistribution plans without upsetting business interests in the country. His election comes just after Peru, Colombia and Chile decided to merge their stock markets in an attempt to create more regional wealth. The success of those plans will likely depend on how protective Humala is of Peru's domestic economy. 

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