The Left

The Left

The 1990 results also demonstrated that the population was unwilling to vote for the nation's hopelessly divided left. Split into Leninist, Maoist, Marxist, Trotskyite, and Socialist camps, the left in Peru had been severely fragmented since its origins. It had its first experience as a legally recognized electoral force in the 1978-80 Constituent Assembly, in which the left made up approximately one-third of the delegates. Despite its relative strength at the grassroots level, the left was unable to unite behind one political front in the 1980 elections, and it contested the elections as nine separate political factions. This limited its potential in those elections and played into the hands of Belaúnde. The left together attained a total of 16.7 percent of the vote; APRA, divided and leaderless after the death of Haya de la Torre, garnered 27.4 percent; Belaúnde won 45.4 percent.

Shortly after the 1981 elections, the majority of the factions of the Socialist, Marxist, and Maoist left (with the obvious exception of the SL, which had gone underground in the early 1970s), formed the United Left (IU) coalition. By 1986, under the leadership of Alfonso Barrantes Lingán, the IU was strong enough to take the municipality of Lima, as well as to become the major opposition force to the APRA government. Barrantes had been the runner-up in the 1985 national elections, winning 22.2 percent of the vote.

Yet, there were irreparable divisions from the outset between the moderate Barrantes faction, which remained committed, first and foremost, to democracy, and the more militant factions, which were sympathetic to, if not overtly supportive of, "armed struggle" as a potential route. The existence of two active guerrilla movements made this a debate of overriding importance. Although much of the militant left condemned the brutal tactics of the SL, they remained sympathetic with and indeed often had ties to the more "conventional" tactics of the MRTA.

This breach came to a head in 1989, when Barrantes, the most popular politician the left had in its ranks, and the bulk of the moderates split off and formed the Leftist Socialist Accord (Acuerdo Socialista Izquierdista--ASI). The larger and bestorganized parties, including the radical Mariateguist Unified Party (Partido Unificado Mariateguista--PUM) and the Peruvian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Peruano--PCP), remained in the IU. A divided left quarrelling over ideological differences hardly seemed the solution to Peru's quagmire in 1990. In the 1990 elections, the left had its poorest showing since the formation of the IU, with the ASI and IU together garnering less than 12 percent of the vote.

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