The run-up to the elections of 9 April 2000 was marked by Fujimori’s controversial decision to stand for a third term of office, despite the Peruvian Constitution only allowing for two continuous terms. His rationale was that since the Constitution was introduced during his second term, he was entitled to stand for one more. However, even with his firm control of the media (especially TV), the election campaign saw strong opposition emerging in the person of Alejandro Toledo Manrique (a “serrano” of humble social origin) – “Perú Posible” candidate, representing in particular the interests of Andean cities and communities. Such was Toledo’s popularity that a smear campaign surfaced a few weeks before the voting, accusing him of shunning an illegitimate daughter and organising a disastrous financial pyramid scheme in the early 1990s.

In the event, the results, which were unusually slow to come out, were announced amid accusations of ballot-rigging by Fujimori’s supporters, leading the US to express official concern about the electoral process and to call for a second round of elections. Even though the true figures may never be known, Fujimori technically faced a second round of voting in any case, having failed to gain the fifty percent of the vote necessary to avoid such a run-off – though it had been close, with Fujimori with approximately forty-eight percent against Toledo with around forty percent. However, Toledo boycotted the race because of concerns about election fraud, and Fujimori was re-elected. In the legislative elections Fujimori’s coalition, “Perú 2000”, won the most congressional seats but fell short of a majority.

Fujimori’s presidency began to unravel in September 2000 after his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, was linked to a corruption scandal. After firing Montesinos, Fujimori called an early presidential election for April 2001 and promised not to run in it. By mid-November Fujimori faced a groundswell of political opposition as new charges of corruption and fraud continued to surface. While Fujimori was abroad for a trade summit of Pacific Rim nations, opposition parties took control of Congress and elected a centrist legislator, Valentin Paniagua, as the leader of Congress. Fujimori announced from Japan that he would resign as president, and Paniagua was chosen to lead an interim government with former UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuellar as Prime Minister, pending new presidential and legislative elections. In a public rebuke of Fujimori, the legislature rejected the former president’s resignation and voted to remove him from office for being morally unfit.

Alejandro Toledo (53.1%) was elected president on 03 June 2001 after a runoff with former president Alan Garcia Perez (46.9%). Toledo vowed to reform Peru’s criminal justice system, promote foreign investment, and reduce unemployment. In legislative elections, held alongside the presidential election, Toledo’s Possible Peru Party emerged as the largest party in the congress, although it did not attain a majority. The American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), led by Garcia, became the second largest party.


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