In the immediate aftermath of the sentencing of her father, former President Alberto Fujimori, for human rights abuses commited under his government, it looked pretty unlikely that Peruvian Senator Keiko Fujimori would win presidential elections in 2011, having been up until then a bit-part player on the national scene. Ever since, however, her popularity has soared, fueled by the exposure of the trial and the positive associations many Peruvians still have regarding her father's period in office in the 1990s, when he was credited with kick-starting the domestic economy and quelling the rebellion of the leftist Shining Path.
Now commanding a quarter of the expected vote, Ms Fujimori can simultaneously play the outsider whilst drawing on the reputation of her father as a man willing to do whats 'necessary' for the country - even if that means slaughtering innocents. Moreover, her current level of support probably underestimates her chances of winning in an eventual run-off. While the support of her two closest challengers, mayor of Lima Luis Castañeda Lossio and former presidential runner-up Ollanta Humala, is concentrated in the metropolitan littoral and the highlands respectively, she can hope to garner votes across the country. Her father's reputation is one of economic orthodoxy, appealing to the relatively prosperous citizens of Lima, yet he is remembered for bringing infrastructure and security to more disadvantaged regions as well.
All of which leaves the successful conviction of Mr Fujimori in even greater jeapody, with his daughter vowing to overturn the ruling should she win the presidential poll in two years time. Peru is still plagued by violence and sporadic guerilla attacks, giving the forceful tactics of Fujimorism a superficial allure. But no country should resort to death squads, and today's more prosperous Peru can afford a more comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy to root out whats left of the rebels. Fujimoristas can also point to the partiality of the law, with alleged atrocities commited under current President Alan Garcia during his first term in office in the 1980s yet to be properly investigated. But this is an arguement for extending the rigour of the judicial system, not for a bleak return to the government-sponsered massacres of Peru's vicious internal conflict. The growth of Ms Fujimori's support is alarming, as is the prospect of Peru reaffirming the darkest methods of its recent past.