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Peru’s Election Frontrunner is a Columbia MBA

Peru's next president could be a Columbia MBA alumna

Keiko Fujimori, who graduated with an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2008, looks set to have won the first round of Peru’s presidential elections.

The Columbia MBA has been attributed 39% of the vote. By falling short of 50% in the first round, Fujimori will be denied an outright victory, but will progress comfortably to an election runoff in June with her nearest challenger.

Father’s legacy divides Peruvians on Keiko Fujimori

Keiko Fujimori is by no means guaranteed victory come June, as many regard her first and foremost as her father’s daughter and therefore representative of the authoritarian regime presided over by former president, Alberto Fujimori, in the 1990s. Fujimori Snr. is currently serving a 25-year jail term for corruption and human rights abuses linked to his tenure’s conflict with Peru’s Shining Path movement and the deaths of approximately 69,000 people. If you prescribe to the view that Alberto Fujimori’s regime was unlawful (protests marking the moment he dissolved Congress drew tens of thousands last week) the credentials even of a Columbia MBA who bears the same name will mean little. Many are therefore predicted to switch their first-round vote for whoever Keiko Fujimori faces in June’s runoff.  

That challenger will most likely be Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, known as PPK, himself a graduate of the University of Oxford and Princeton, who is a former economist with the World Bank and cofounder of private equity fund, the Latin American Enterprise Fund (LAEF). Kuczynski is thought to have garnered about a quarter of first-round votes and, if confirmed in second place, his progression would mark the end of the road for Verónika Mendoza, a candidate who promised to implement left-leaning social reforms and to curb the influence of Peru’s mining industry.

The mining industry is one of the principal providers of MBA jobs in Peru and one of the reasons behind the recent growth of its employment market with respect to graduates of the degree. Overall, employers in Peru reported a 29% rise in MBA job opportunities in the QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Report 2015/16, with those in the metals/mining industry recording a growth of 8%, with expectations of a further rise of 20% in the current year. Peru is currently in the world’s top 10 for the volume of opportunities open to graduates of an MBA degree and is home to CENTRUM Católica, a business school that offers one of QS’s top-rated online MBA programs.

Keiko Fujimori and Kuczynski runoff should boost financial markets

Considering the academic and professional backgrounds of Peru’s two frontrunners, it should come as no surprise that the country’s continued economic growth is a central platform of their presidential plans. Indeed, financial markets are expected to rise if and when a Fujimori-Kuczynski runoff is confirmed, after Mendoza's increasing popularity had brought falls to Peru’s currency and benchmark stock index last week.

Keiko Fujimori, for her part, is well aware that her father’s legacy looms largely over her candidacy. Last year, the Columbia MBA surprised many by agreeing to speak at Harvard University, responding to questions and telling the audience that controversy over her father’s rule “gave me the opportunity to start to grow from adversity.” She also used the platform to distance herself from the more controversial aspects of his tenure. Many of her supporters, meanwhile, see her as the only credible candidate to combat crime, while others are more generous in their view of the elder Fujimori, who they argue curbed hyperinflation and necessarily fought the Shining Path movement with strong-handed tactics. Whether these factors, and the political astuteness that almost all observers agree she possesses, is enough to see the Columbia MBA prevail on June 5 remains to be seen.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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