Posts Tagged ‘la Ley Seca’
At 12:01am on Friday April 8th, the Ley Seca begins here in Peru. This is the Dry Law that says that no alcohol can be sold prior to Sunday’s Presidential election. Ironically, one of Peru’s leading grocery chains had a big sale on alcohol today and the place was packed.
I have to say that one of the things that has struck me most about the Peruvian election campaign is that it is very colorful, both figuratively and literally. Each party has colors to represent it that are very bright and definitely call attention. In addition, the ballots marked by the voters for President and Vice President not only contain each candidate’s photo but also the symbol that represents the party. Voters will also be electing members of congress. Each person running for congress is represented by a number. Voters can just mark an ‘X’ on the symbol of the party they want to elect the congressman or woman from or they can write the numbers of two specific individuals who are running for congress, as long as they are from the same party.
So, when they make their important civic decision on Sunday, what options do Peruvians have to choose from? Five hopeful candidates are running for the post of President. Let’s take a brief look at each candidate, their parties, their symbols and their colors.
Slogan: “What I did well I will do better”
Toledo served as President of Peru from 2001 – 2006. He has a Ph.D in Economics of Human Resources. He is most well-known for his opposition again former President Alberto Fujimori. Toledo portrays himself as a center-leftist, promising voters not only economic development but also social development.
Party Colors: Orange & White
Slogan: Keiko Presidente
As the name suggests, Keiko Fujimori is the daughter of imprisoned Peruvian ex-President Alberto Fujimori. She is the only female candidate and the youngest at age 35. She has an MBA and is a Congresswoman in the current government. She is a spokeswoman for the poor and underprivileged and is mostly supported by the rural population. Here campaign has been surrounded by the controversy that, if elected, many think she will pardon her father.
Party Colors: Yellow
Slogan: Para que todos vivamos mejor (So that we all live better)
Castañedo, often referred to as Lucho, is the former mayor of the City of Lima. His term ended in late 2010. As mayor he completed many works projects the most visible being the Metropolitano bus system. His support is concentrated mainly in Lima and has waned off in the last weeks of the campaign.
Party Colors: Red & White
Slogan: Honestidad para hacer la diferencia (Honesty to make the difference)
Ollanta is one of the most controversial of the candidates due to his ties to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Ollanta served in the Peruvian army and achieved the rank Lieutenant Colonel. He is leftist leaning but has moved his policies closer to the center to gain more support from voters. Ollanta was ahead in the final poll published prior to the election, but according to the poll, would lose against all candidates in the likely event of a run-off.
Slogan: “PPKuy sabe cómo hacerlo” (PPKuy knows how to do it)
Kuczynski, most commonly referred to as PPK, served as Minister of Energy and Mining, of the Economy and President of the Council of Ministers in Toledos government. He is an economist and has a sound reputation for conventional economics. During the campaign, PPK became known for his mascot, PPKuy, a human-sized guinea pig character that has been the success of his campaign and has turned into a promotional sensation. PPK has been the only candidate to honestly say that there are limits to what the government can spend to solve some of the countries problems such as poverty and underpaid teachers and police.
Today was election day in Perú. The elections are for the alcaldes (mayors) of each district as well the alcalde de La Provincia de Lima. In each district, only the people who live in that district can vote for their local candidate. However, everyone that lives in the Province of Lima votes for the Mayor of Lima. The Mayor of Lima is the second most important person in government after The President, Alan Garcia.
The current Mayor of Lima is Luis Castañeda Lossio. He is not running for re-election as he has already served two terms. One of his greatest achievements is the completion of the Metropolitano transit system.
Interestingly, the top two candidates for the Mayor of Lima in this election are both women. Lourdes Flores is the candidate for the Partido Popular Cristiano, which is a conservative Christian party and Susana Villarán is the candidate for Fuerza Social, a left-wing party. Lourdes Flores had a large lead early in the campaign, but a couple of weeks ago she was involved in a wire-tap scandal that hurt her in the polls. She gained back some ground this last week and the race is extremely close.
Unlike in Canada the elections here are held on a Sunday. The polls open at 8am and close at 4pm. Normally, the results are known by 7 or 8pm, but because the race is so close, as of 9pm tonight the results for the Mayor of Lima have still not been confirmed.
In addition to voting for their local district mayor and the Provincial Mayor, Peruvians are also voting on a referendum in this election. The referendum is over a proposed bill to return Fonavi (Fondo Nacional de Vivienda) funds to the workers who contributed to it. Fonavi was a national housing and infrastructure fund to which worker’s contributed from 1979 to 1998 but from which they never received any benefits. The national government has indicated that if the bill passes they will raise taxes to pay for the program. The big question is what happened to the funds they originally deducted from the workers! With a sales tax that is already a whopping 19%, it seems insane that they are considering raising it as high as 22%.
Leaving aside the politics of the election, what I have found more interesting is the electoral process. All Peruvians over the age of 18 years are obligated to vote. Voting is mandatory and if you don’t vote you are fined. Even if you are traveling abroad at the time of an election you are required to go to the nearest Peruvian Embassy to vote. There are, however, some Peruvians who still do not vote and pay the fine, especially if they are not near the district in which they reside or a Peruvian Embassy at the time of the election. Luis received a fine for not voting while he lived in Russia.
It is also mandatory to serve as a Miembro de Mesa (Member of the Table) if you are selected. The Miembros de Mesa are the people who work at the polls. They check people’s identity, give them their ballots and then take finger prints after the ballots are deposited in the box as proof that the person voted. After the polls close they are responsible for counting the votes. As with voting, people are also required to pay a fine for not serving as a Miembro de Mesa if they have been chosen. Unfortunately, Luis was selected when he was in Russia and was fined for that as well.
Finally, the strangest thing about elections in Peru is something called La Ley Seca (The Dry Law). The law states that no alcohol can be served or sold in public places starting on the Friday prior to the election. So the restaurants and bars are prohibited from serving alcohol and you can’t buy alcohol in any stores. I can’t quite understand why it is necessary to stop people from drinking two days prior to voting, but someone must have had a reason for it.
Even with La Ley Seca in place, alcohol can still be found relatively easily. On Friday night we took a stroll down La Calle de Las Pizzas, a pedestrian walkway flanked with bars and restaurants. Some were abiding by the law, but a number were calling to customers telling them they could get drinks on the second floor. We ended up going to Shehadi, a popular restaurant/bar across from Parque Kennedy on Avenida Diagonal. We asked if they were serving alcohol, more out of curiosity than anything, and they said yes. The waitress said it was worth it for them to pay the fine because of the business they would generate. Also, the owner is American and apparently didn’t see the need to comply with the law. So, we happily stopped for a drink with a few friends. The surprise came when we received the bill. They charges each person a S/.7 cover charge. So in essence, we were the ones paying the fine, not the owner!