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CLARIN

The Peruvian First Lady Who Outshines Her Presidential Husband

Nadine Heredia Alarcon could become the first female Peruvian president
Nadine Heredia Alarcon could become the first female Peruvian president
Angel Páez

LIMA – Nadine Heredia Alarcón, wife of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, has never expressed a desire to run as a candidate in the presidential election, but if she did, she could win and become the first female Peruvian president.

Because of this possibility, leaders of the country’s political parties are pressuring Humala to confirm whether his wife will run in the 2016 election or not. “It’s not on the agenda,” he said, curtly.

The 36 year-old first lady from Lima is of Andean heritage, has a degree in communications, and is the founder and head of the Peruvian Nationalist Party. According to the latest poll, she’s also the highest rated governmental figure – her husband’s 47% was no match for her 60%.

In the same poll, the question “who would you vote for as President” was asked and Nadine tied with Keiko Fujimori – daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in prison for corruption and crimes against humanity. However, in a hypothetical ballot between Nadine and Keiko, the First Lady triumphs with 39% to the former first daughter’s 34%.

For Keiko, who was previously defeated in 2011 and wants to pardon her imprisoned father, the easiest formula in order to impede Nadine’s candidacy is applying the “Susana Law,” a law approved by the pro-Fujimori majority in parliament in 1993 that impeded the electoral running of President Fujimori’s wife at the time, Susana Higuchi, – Keiko’s mother. “If the nationalists want to Nadine to run, they will have to change the law,” she said.

One of the fiercest potential opponents to Nadine’s possible candidacy is former President Alan Garcia, who has accused the governmental palace of a “conjugal re-election.”

“She is the one who truly leads”

Subject to an investigation on supposed corruption during his administration, latest polls puts Garcia in 6th place, with only 6%. The former head of state (2006-2011) has insinuated that the commission, headed by a Nationalist congressman, would try to disqualify him from running for a third mandate in the 2016 elections but, in reality, it is out of fear of Nadine’s potential candidacy.

During a TV interview on April 28, President Humala did not deny nor confirm his wife’s candidacy, even joking about his opponents' desperation saying, “Let them suffer!” Nevertheless, his allies from the Perú Posible party fail to see the funny side. “We think it is regrettable that he has not specified whether his wife would be a candidate or not,” said spokesman José León. Ex-President Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006) also fears Nadine running, as he too wants to run and would lose against her.

Center-right congressman Luis Galarreta has condemned “the brazen use of public resources used to better the first lady’s image, with the 2016 elections in mind.” And pro-Fujimori congressman Pedro Spadaro criticized public television spending more hours to discuss Nadine’s actions than those of even the president.

In 2006 she was accused of having been the recipient of alleged contributions from Hugo Chávez’ government for the presidential campaign, but an investigation found nothing. Those who oppose her even say that she is the one who truly leads, not her husband. Nadine has denied all of it.

“We’re a team,” she says. But, what is true is that she is not a typical first lady who just stands in her husband’s shadow.

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