Well, we’re on the eve of the Presidential elections here in Peru. It’s slightly unwavering to see which candidate may win and how it will affect Peru, especially so as I’ve been here for some time now (but not tooooo much). Interesting to note, though, a few of the rules and regulations that surround presidential elections;
+ Starting a week before the elections, public opinion polls are prohibited from being released – believing (rightfully so) that the small sample polls will affect a person’s vote rather than platforms and issues. They can start exit polls around 4pm election day.
+ Elections are on a Sunday. If you are between 18 – 65 years old, you must vote or pay a fine of S/.70 ($25). If you’re older than 65, than voting is optional. Oddly, my straw poll shows that most people older than 65 don’t intend on voting or see the need to even though some candidates offer better pensions than others
+Starting the Friday before elections, no more campaign commercials or publicity.
+ No public demonstrations or rallies of political nature starting on Friday
+ No sale or consumption of alcohol from Friday until noon on Monday with hefty fines for rule breakers (especially businesses selling the booze). It’s heavily forced in the capital cities, and results may vary in rural zones. People drank openly in the streets, just like any Sunday, during the October elections when the same law was in place
+ No public shows (concerts, movies, circus) on Election Day
+ No religious services are allowed between 8:00am – 4:00pm on Election Day, which is interesting considering Peru is heavily Catholic/Christian. Just shows how serious and important the government views national elections
+ Can’t carry around guns Saturday – Sunday
There’s a few others, but these are the bigger ones. Growing up with the two-party system, I may question the validity or effectiveness of the true multi-party system (though as of writing, we might be under a government freeze). But Peru takes elections and the democratic ideal seriously. Unlike our low-voter turnout Tuesday elections.
I once read that traditionally elections were held on Tuesday because back when America was super-religious, everyone wanted to be at church on Sunday and it was forbidden to travel on the Sabath anyways. So Monday was supposed to be a travel day for people who needed to mobilize to the voting station, and thus elections were held on Tuesday.
Maybe it’s time for Saturday elections – better turn out, and allows for more full fledged celebrations….