Peru’s narrow presidential win–and unusual divided government

In Peru, narrow loser Keiko Fujimori has now conceded defeat to Pedro Pablo Kaczynski (PPK) in the presidential run-off. The final result is 50.12% to 49.9%. This is right up there with some of the slimmest margins in the annals of presidential elections. It does not quite beat Taiwan, 2004, however (50.11-49.89).*

Of particular interest is that this election results in divided government, defined as a single-party majority in the assembly opposed to the president. That majority is itself unusual, as it was based on just 37.8% of the vote. Fujimori’s party, Fuerza Popular (FP), won 73 seats out of 130 (56.5%), for an advantage ratio of 1.49. That is staggeringly high for a “proportional” system. Peru uses D’Hondt divisors. The mean district magnitude is around 5. Ordinarily, even D’Hondt (known to favor the largest party) would not produce such a disproportional outcome, particularly given that the country has several large-magnitude districts. However, the second largest party nationwide had only 17.1% (Peruanos Por el Kambio**), implying that in many districts, FP must have been far ahead and therefore poised to maximize advantage out of the D’Hondt divisors. (I did not take the time to scrutinize the district results myself.)

The assembly election was concurrent with the first round, and the FP actually ran just a little behind its candidate, who won 39.9%. PPK (the candidate) won 21.1% in the first round, thereby running well ahead of PPK (the party). Even so, he required a big runoff comeback to eventually win. In fact, Peru 2016 would be just a bit to the right of Austria’s recent (also very close) election in the graph I posted on runoff comebacks.

I do not know of another case of divided government resulting from a presidential runoff election where the assembly had been elected concurrent to the presidential first round.

This was a very unusual election season in Peru. Governing may be a challenge, and divided government may yield some upcoming reminders that the Peruvian system actually is semi-presidential.


* By comparison, the recent election in Austria was practically a landslide.

** The spelling is a play on Pedro Pablo Kaczynski’s initials.

8 thoughts on “Peru’s narrow presidential win–and unusual divided government

  1. Looking at some of the districts, there are certainly some very disproportional results in some of the smaller districts. The FP won 2 seats out of 2 in Pasco, despite winning only 38% of the vote, 3 out of 4 in Ica with 41% of the vote, 4 out of 6 in Cajamarca with 28.9% (where there seems to have been a substantial presence from small parties) and 2 out of 2 in Amazonas with 42.9%.

    Of course, the reasons are different, but the weakness of the president’s party in the legislature, as well as the President being elected in the second round despite trailing in the first round, certainly looks similar to 1990. I believe Peru was semi-presidential at that point, and I think there was certainly cabinet censure.


  2. It is not only “right up there with some of the slimmest margins in the annals of presidential elections,” it also reassures Canadians that the margin by which Quebec voted in 1995 to stay in Canada (50.58%) was positively decisive. Which also reminds us that 45 constituencies voted to stay in Canada, while 80 voted to leave: just as well for Canada that the winner-take-all system in single-member constituencies did not decide Canada’s fate, although 21 years later we have not yet moved to a proportional system for federal elections.


    • Yeah, I know. I realized it during the middle of the night (it just hit me all of a sudden), then forgot to go back and change it. Thanks for the reminder–I just saw Bancki’s comment on June 20, as I’ve been busy with a grant application). I will fix it…

      (Clearly, I’ve been thinking too much about the Turkish situation!)


  3. The Peruvian constitution remains semi-presidential, of the president-parliamentary subtype. The president holds a lot of cards under formal constitutional powers, including the right to dissolve in response to repeated censure (votes of no confidence) and some legislative decree power (but a weak veto). The prime minister definitely must have assembly-majority confirmation to take office, and can be dismissed by a majority. And acts of the president require ministerial counter-signature.

    We may be about to get an interesting lesson in the powers of the branches.


  4. Pingback: Divided government in Ecuador? | Fruits and Votes

  5. Pingback: Some thoughts on Peru’s midterm election | Fruits and Votes

  6. Pingback: Peru 2021 | Fruits and Votes

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