Geopolitics

Too Close To Call: Fujimori And Humala Running Neck-And-Neck Going Into Peru's Election Runoff

It’s anyone’s guess who will come out victorious when Peruvians go to the polls Sunday to elect their 94th president. Each of the two closely matched candidates – Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala – brings some baggage from the past.

Too Close To Call: Fujimori And Humala Running Neck-And-Neck Going Into Peru's Election Runoff

EYES INSIDE -- LATIN AMERICA

Sunday's runoff election in Peru could very well end in a photo finish, as polls continue to report a dead heat between the two candidates: conservative Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori and the leftist ex-army officer Ollanta Humala.

Fujimori, the 36-year-old daughter of jailed former Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), enjoys a notable advantage in and around Lima, the country's capital and largest city. But Humala, the runner-up in the 2006 presidential election, is expected to outpoll his rival in the south.

Humala lost the last election to President Alan García, who is now completing his second term in office. Garcia, a centrist, first held the presidency from 1985-1990. Peruvian term limits prevent him from running again.

While the numbers vary a bit from poll to poll, they all seem to agree on one thing: that the June 5 contest is very much up for grabs. A final survey conducted by the polling firm Ipsos Apoyo gives a thin edge to Fujimori (50.5% versus 49.5% for Humala), while Imasen, another polling firm, found a slight advantage for the left-wing candidate (43.8% versus 42.5% for Fujimori).

Polls do not take into account Peruvian voters living abroad. Potentially decisive, expatriated Peruvians who are already registered to vote (roughly 750,000) could end up accounting for between 2%-3% of voters, according to the Chilean daily La Tercera.

Fujimori and Humala met last Sunday night for the first and only debate of the runoff period. Several of Peru's major newspapers criticized the encounter as all fireworks and little substance. "Sólo golpes" (just punches), read Monday's front-page headline from the tabloid daily Perú 21.

Referring repeatedly to Fujimori as the "ex-first lady of Peru," Humala used his rival's family ties to suggest that a victory for the congresswoman would mean a return to the corruption, human rights violations and authoritarianism that characterized Alberto Fujimori's decade-long presidential tenure.

Technically speaking, Keiko Fujimori was "first lady" for a time – starting in August 1994, when President Fujimori "fired" his estranged wife and bestowed the title on his then 19-year-old daughter.

Fujimori, head of a coalition called Fuerza 2011, defended herself by pointing out that she in fact has never been charged or tried for corruption, human rights violations or any of the other accusations levied against her father. "Comandante Humala," on the other hand, has been subject to criminal investigations, she said. In 2000, Humala also participated in a failed military coup – against Alberto Fujimori.

Most Peruvian media outlets found that the televised debate ended in draw, doing little to unlock the dead heat in the polls. Imasen director Giovanna Peñaflor described it as "just another element" voters can use to make their final decision. "It's likely that the debate helped a sector of the citizenry to lean toward one or the other of the candidates, but it wasn't strong enough to be a real determining factor in the runoff," she told Perú 21.

Analysts have described the Fujimori-Humala head-to-head as "unusual," not only because of how tight the race is, but because of how polarizing the two candidates are proving to be: Humala because of his military background and once close relationship with controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and Fujimori because of her infamous father.

"I'm still as undecided as I was when I started this process and voted for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. I'm not convinced by either of them. They both make me nervous," Pedro Lordi, a 65-year-old perfume seller in Lima told the Mexican wire service El Universal.

Kuczynski, a former finance minister, was one of several candidates who failed to make it out of Peru's first round presidential election, held April 10. Other candidates included Luis Castañeda, a conservative ex-mayor of Lima, and former President Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006).

"If the election were tomorrow, I'd hold my nose and go vote for Ollanta," said Lordi. "I lost my company due to the Alberto Fujimori-era corruption. I couldn't vote for Keiko even is she promised all the bridges along the Nile."

Benjamin Witte
Worldcrunch

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Future

How China Flipped From Tech Copycat To Tech Leader

Long perceived as a country chasing Western tech, China's business and technological innovations are now influencing the rest of the world. Still lagging on some fronts, the future is now up for grabs.

At the World Semiconductor Conference in Nanjing, China, on June 9

SIPA Asia/ZUMA
Emmanuel Grasland

BEIJING — China's tech tycoons have fallen out of favor: Jack Ma (Alibaba), Colin Huang (Pinduoduo), Richard Liu (Tencent) and Zhang Yiming (ByteDance) have all been pressured by Beijing to leave their jobs or step back from a public role. Their time may be coming to an end, but the legacy remains exceptional. Under their reign, China has become a veritable window to the global future of technology.

TikTok is the perfect example. Launched in 2016, the video messaging app has been downloaded over two billion times worldwide. It has passed the 100-million active user mark in the United States. Thanks to TikTok's success, ByteDance, its parent company, has reached an exceptional level of influence on the internet.


For a long time, the West viewed China's digital ecosystem as a cheap imitation of Silicon Valley. The European and American media described the giants of the Asian superpower as the "Chinese Google" or "Chinese Amazon." But the tables have turned.

No Western equivalent to WeChat

The Asian superpower has forged cutting-edge business models that do not exist elsewhere. It is impossible to find a Western equivalent to the WeChat super-app (1.2 billion users), which is used for shopping as much as for making a medical appointment or obtaining credit.

The flow of innovation is now changing direction.

The roles have actually reversed: In a recent article, Les Echos describes the California-based social network IRL, as a "WeChat of the Western world."

Grégory Boutté, digital and customer relations director at the multinational luxury group Kering, explains, "The Chinese digital ecosystem is incredibly different, and its speed of evolution is impressive. Above all, the flow of innovation is now changing direction."

This is illustrated by the recent creation of "live shopping" events in France, which are hosted by celebrities and taken from a concept already popular in China.

10,000 new startups per day

There is an explosion of this phenomenon in the digital sphere. Rachel Daydou, Partner & China General Manager of the consulting firm Fabernovel in Shanghai, says, "With Libra, Facebook is trying to create a financial entity based on social media, just as WeChat did with WeChat Pay. Facebook Shop looks suspiciously like WeChat's mini-programs. Amazon Live is inspired by Taobao Live and YouTube Shopping by Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok."

In China, it is possible to go to fully robotized restaurants or to give a panhandler some change via mobile payment. Your wallet is destined to be obsolete because your phone can read restaurant menus and pay for your meal via a QR Code.

The country uses shared mobile chargers the way Europeans use bicycles, and is already testing electric car battery swap stations to avoid 30 minutes of recharging time.

Michael David, chief omnichannel director at LVMH, says, "The Chinese ecosystem is permanently bubbling with innovation. About 10,000 start-ups are created every day in the country."

China is also the most advanced country in the electric car market. With 370 models at the end of 2020, it had an offering that was almost twice as large as Europe's, according to the International Energy Agency.

Photo of a phone's screen displaying the logo of \u200bChina's super-app WeChat

China's super-app WeChat

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/ZUMA

The whole market runs on tech

Luca de Meo, CEO of French automaker Renault, said in June that China is "ahead of Europe in many areas, whether it's electric cars, connectivity or autonomous driving. You have to be there to know what's going on."

As a market, China is also a source of technological inspiration for Western companies, a world leader in e-commerce, solar, mobile payments, digital currency and facial recognition. It has the largest 5G network, with more than one million antennas up and running, compared to 400,000 in Europe.

Self-driving cars offer an interesting point of divergence between China and the West.

Just take the number of connected devices (1.1 billion), the time spent on mobile (six hours per day) and, above all, the magnitude of data collected to deploy and improve artificial intelligence algorithms faster than in Europe or the United States.

The groundbreaking field of self-driving cars offers an interesting point of divergence between China and the West. Artificial intelligence guru Kai-Fu Lee explains that China believes that we should teach the highway to speak to the car, imagining new services and rethinking cities to avoid cars crossing pedestrians, while the West does not intend to go that far.

Still lagging in some key sectors

There are areas where China is still struggling, such as semiconductors. Despite a production increase of nearly 50% per year, the country produces less than 40% of the chips it consumes, according to official data. This dependence threatens its ambitions in artificial intelligence, telecoms and autonomous vehicles. Chinese manufacturers work with an engraving fineness of 28 nm or more, far from those of Intel, Samsung or TSMC. They are unable to produce processors for high-performance PCs.

China's aerospace industry is also lagging behind the West. There are also no Chinese players among the top 20 life science companies on the stock market and there are doubts surrounding the efficacy of Sinovac and Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccines. As of 2019, the country files more patents per year than the U.S., but far fewer are converted into marketable products.

Beijing knows its weaknesses and is working to eliminate them. Adopted in March, the nation's 14th five-year plan calls for a 7% annual increase in R&D spending between now and 2025, compared with 12% under the previous plan. Big data aside, that is basic math anyone can understand.

https://www.lesechos.fr/idees-debats/editos-analyses/la-chine-est-desormais-une-fenetre-sur-notre-futur-1347064
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