Peru makes a radical choice. Will it pan out?

Peru makes a radical choice. Will it pan out?

Fed up with years of political dysfunction, and wracked by the world's worst per capita COVID death toll, Peruvians have made a radical new choice for president.

After a day or so of nail-biting uncertainty, the results of Sunday's runoff appear to show that Pedro Castillo, a Marxist-leaning former schoolteacher who gets around on horseback and carries an oversized pencil with him everywhere, has edged out Keiko Fujimori, the authoritarian-minded daughter of the country's former dictator.


Who is this guy? Barely known to most Peruvians until just months ago, Castillo shocked the political establishment by advancing to the second round of the presidential election with just under 19 percent of the vote. Now he has won the top job by defeating Fujimori, a deeply unpopular yet immensely powerful rival who has lost her third bid for the presidency.

Castillo's victory is a backlash against the political class. Last November, mass street protests erupted when the country churned through three presidents in a single week following the impeachment of the incumbent for a vote-buying scandal years before he took office. With about half of Peruvian lawmakers currently under investigation for crimes from money laundering to homicide, it's no surprise that turnout was well below Peru's historical average for presidential votes, and that a (slim) majority of voters have placed their trust in an outsider like Castillo to stand up to Lima's corrupt swamp.

Indeed, Castillo styles himself as a man of the people. His signature is a cowboy hat, and his horsemanship is part of his rustic appeal. The giant pencil, meanwhile, symbolizes his party's focus on educating the rural poor. At the same time, he's also a pragmatist — to broaden his appeal beyond the countryside, in the past he has been willing to strike deals with players as wide-ranging as former members of the far-left Shining Path guerrilla movement on the one hand, and members of Fujimori's party on the other.

What are the next president's plans for Peru? Castillo has ambitious policy proposals, which his supporters say most Peruvians want: rewrite the constitution, spend 10 percent of GDP on education and health, and redistribute mining profits to fund social programs. Perhaps in a nod to more moderate voters, he's already walked back earlier calls to dissolve Congress if lawmakers don't agree to reform the charter, and nationalize strategic industries.

For his opponents, however, Castillo is another Hugo Chávez who will turn Peru into Venezuela by overturning three decades of pro-business reforms that have brought prosperity to the country. So far, the markets agree — the value of the Peruvian sol sank on Monday to its lowest value against the US dollar in seven years, and the stock market plunged more than seven percent.

Castillo's agenda will face tough roadblocks in a highly fragmented and dysfunctional Congress. His party only has 37 of the 130 seats in parliament, which is dominated by smaller right-wing formations that are more likely to cut deals with Fujimori. What's more, the bar for impeaching a Peruvian president has lately been set so low that if Castillo pushes lawmakers too hard, two-thirds of them could vote to oust Castillo over the vague charge of "moral incapacity."

And don't forget... Perú is still being pummeled by twin health and economic crises. Last week, the government revised its official COVID death toll upwards, to nearly triple the earlier number, which means the Andean country has the world's highest death rate per capita. And nearly 28 percent of Peruvians now live in poverty due to COVID, almost double the figure before the pandemic struck.

So, what comes next? It's hard to say. A polarizing election means that half of the country will be against whatever Castillo wants to do, while the other half will be willing to take to the streets if the political establishment stands in the way of the change they want.

Without a sweeping popular mandate or strong backing in parliament, there's only so much an outsider can do to stand up to an entrenched elite. Peruvians' frustration with dysfunction brought Castillo to power, but will he be able to change things?

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We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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