Monday, April 25, 2011

Peru and moderation

While I am glad to a the mainstream media (in this case Newsweek) contradict conventional wisdom about the Peruvian election, I do wish it could be done more cogently.  The basic argument is that whoever wins in Peru will likely govern more moderately than people tend to think.  That argument can be made most convincingly by focusing on political institutions: Ollanta Humala needs the center to gain a majority in a second round, and then will face an opposition majority in the legislature.  Therefore he will need to move toward the center.  Maybe this is wrong, maybe it is right, but it is a logical argument.

Instead, the article veers off into how Humala might copy Lula, without any evidence to suggest precisely why he would do so other than that he wants to win--that makes more sense if you ditch the Lula comparison and just look at the dynamics of winning a presidential election in Peru.

Then it heads into what seems an inevitable part of U.S. media analyses of the election.  Macroeconomic indicators make everyone say Peru is a success story (and, of course, in the past similar stories circulated about Bolivia, Venezuela, etc.) and we cannot understand why Peruvians themselves seem not to understand that.  The article gets into that only very briefly.  If you get an outcome that seems to make no sense, you should start thinking of alternate hypotheses.  In the case of Peru, that is not happening very often in media accounts of the election.

3 comments:

Alexandra 12:34 PM  

This is a great post!
I have a blog with great travel info.

Justin Delacour 12:34 AM  

That's a good point. To the extent that the left-populist Humala is getting support, there has to be questions about how much of the country's growth is trickling down to the less fortunate. At the same time, the fact that Humala is now more embracing of markets also suggests that he feels some popular pressure to not abandon the model altogether.

Jackie M. Briski 9:01 PM  

I've been following the coverage of the Peruvian elections relatively closely, and I'm finding a lot of what you mentioned in the last paragraph. Do you have any recommendations on beginning to explore alternative hypotheses?

Thanks!

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