Until April 5, 1992, Peru had a multiparty system and numerous political parties, some of which had been in existence for several decades. Yet, in 1990 the Peruvian electorate by and large rejected established parties and voted for a virtual unknown from outside the traditional party system. Alberto Fujimori's rapid and sudden rise to power and the resulting government with no political party base signified a crisis for Peru's party system, and a crisis of representation more generally. These crises resulted from the severity of the socioeconomic situation, and also from the poor performance of several of the traditional parties in government.
American Popular Revolutionary Alliance
APRA, Peru's oldest and only well-institutionalized party, was founded by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre in Mexico City in May 1924. The APRA program espoused an anti-imperialist, Marxistoriented but uniquely Latin American-based solution to Peru's and Latin America's problems. APRA influenced several political movements throughout Latin America, including Bolivia's Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario--MNR) and Costa Rica's National Liberation Party (Partido Liberación Nacional--PLN). Years of repression and clandestinity, as well as single-handed dominance of the party by Haya de la Torre, resulted in sectarian and hierarchical traits that were analogous to some communist parties. In addition, opportunistic ideological swings to the right by Haya de la Torre in the 1950s, in exchange for attaining legal status for the party, resulted in an exodus of some of APRA's most talented young leaders to the Marxist left. These shifts created cleavages between APRA and the rest of society, and were significant obstacles to democratic consensus-building during APRA's 1985-90 tenure in government.
In any case, the party maintained a devoted core of followers that remained permanent party loyalists. In May 1989, APRA chose as its standard bearer Luis Alva Castro, a long-time rival to President García. APRA was as much a social phenomenon as a political movement, with a significant sector of society among its membership whose loyalty to the party and its legacy was unwavering. Despite APRA's disastrous tenure in power, in the first round of the 1990 elections it obtained 19.6 percent of the vote, more than any other of the traditional parties.
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