Popular Action (Peru)

Popular Action
Acción Popular
General SecretaryEdmundo del Águila
FounderFernando Belaúnde
Founded7 July 1956; 67 years ago (1956-07-07)
Preceded byDemocratic Youth Front
Membership (2023)250,472
Political positionCentre[1][2] to centre-right[3][4][5]
Anthem"Popular Action March"[6]
7 / 130
0 / 25
Regional Councillors
6 / 342
Province Mayorships
3 / 196
District Mayorships
61 / 1,874
Acción Popular banner in Lima, Peru

The Popular Action (Spanish: Acción Popular, AP) is a liberal and reformist political party in Peru, founded by former Peruvian president Fernando Belaúnde.


Early history

Fernando Belaúnde founded Popular Action (Acción Popular) in 1956 as a reformist alternative to the status quo conservative forces and the populist American Popular Revolutionary Alliance party.

Although Belaúnde's message was not all that different from APRA's, his tactics were more inclusive and less confrontational. He was able to appeal to some of the same political base as APRA, primarily the middle class, but also to a wider base of professionals and white-collar workers. It also advocated scientific advancement and technocracy, a policy set that it took from the Progressive Social Movement, a splinter party which it eventually absorbed.[7] The AP had significant electoral success, attaining the presidency in 1963 and 1980, but the party was more of an electoral machine for the persona of Belaúnde than an institutionalized organization. The AP was initially reckoned as a center-left party. However, by the 1980s, Peru's political spectrum had shifted sharply leftward, and the AP found itself on the center-right.

Later years

After AP's second administration, in 1985, the party was defeated by the APRA party, gaining only 6.4 percent of the vote. In 1990, AP participated in the elections as a part of the Democratic Front, a center-right coalition headed by Mario Vargas Llosa.

In 2000, Víctor Andrés García Belaúnde was selected as the presidential nominee, being the worst general election for AP, gaining only 0.42% of the popular vote. Only three AP congressman were elected. As many assume the election was a fraud, Fujimori resigned after the corruption of his government was revealed by the opposition.

AP member Valentín Paniagua would become President of the Congress in November 2000 for a few days and, after the fall of the Fujimori administration, became the interim President of the Republic, holding office from November 2000 to July 2001.

At the 8 April 2001 election, the party won 4.2% of the popular vote and three out of 120 seats in Congress.

Likewise, in 2002, regional elections were held for the first time, which aimed to elect Regional Presidents for the 25 departments of Peru. In that sense, party participation was quite high (15 political groups). In these elections, AP ranked sixth by number of votes.[8]

For the 2006 national election, the party joined forces with We Are Peru and National Coordinator of Independents to form the Centre Front coalition. Paniagua was the presidential candidate, while the vice-presidential candidates belonged to AP's allies. The Center Front ended in the fifth place in the national election, with 5.6% of the popular vote.

For the 2011 national election, the party joined forces with We Are Peru and Possible Peru to form the Possible Peru Electoral Alliance. The presidential candidate was former Peru's president and leader of Possible Peru, Alejandro Toledo. The alliance ended in the fourth place in the national election, with 15.6% of the popular vote.

For the 2016 national election, the party ran alone for the first time since 2000, when Congressman Víctor Andrés García Belaúnde ran against the sitting president Alberto Fujimori, and it was the first time since 2006 that Popular Action participated with a party member as a presidential candidate, when former President Valentín Paniagua ran for office. The presidential candidate was Alfredo Barnechea, journalist and political analyst, who won the party's primaries with 52% of the votes, defeating Mesías Guevara (40%), the party's president for the 2014–2018 term, the lawyer Beatríz Mejía (6%) and former Deputy Alejandro Montoya (2%). Popular Action ended in fourth place in the national election, with 6.97% of the popular vote. This was the best result for Popular Action since 1985. For the 2016–2021 term, AP had five congressmen out of 130 representing the party, until the snap election in 2020, when it increased its representation to 25 congressmen until the end of the 2016–2021 term. In the 2021 elections, Lescano placed 5th in a fractured race of 18 candidates while the party gained 16 seats for the 2021–2026 congressional term. On 26 July 2021, an alliance led by Popular Action member María del Carmen Alva successfully negotiated an agreement to gain control of Peru's Congress.[9]


Popularactionism is the name that has been given to the party's ideological doctrine. It is pointed out that the main feature of his thinking is a situational humanism.[citation needed]

Popularactionism considers that the role of the State should be limited to regulating and encouraging private enterprise and sustainable development. Within the main feature of his theory, situational humanism, it considers in the Peruvian case that it is specifically inspired by what has been called "Peru as Doctrine".

It affirms that the proclamation is of a "democratic, nationalist and revolutionary" court:

  • Democratic, inasmuch as it respects, disseminates and defends the democratic system.
  • Nationalist, in that it promotes local traditions and economic and cultural development.
  • Revolutionary, inasmuch as it aspires to keeping up-to-date with the new modernity and rapid change that improves social and cultural structures.

The idea of "Peru as Doctrine" is based on the values and principles arising from the historical and cultural particularity in which Peru developed but which have universal significance. An important part of their doctrine is developed in what they call Popular Cooperation.

In Peruvian political history it has happened that on occasions the right has called Popular Action a leftist party (first government) or that the left has called it a right-wing party (second government). Towards the end of the 1960s, a radicalized sector split from the party (the so-called "hotheads"), forming Acción Popular Socialista (Manuel Seoane, Gustavo Mohme, among other intellectuals).[citation needed]

Likewise, a significant percentage of the so-called "young Turks" (or "chapulines"/grasshoppers, young popularactionists of the early 1980s), at the beginning of the 1990s migrated to liberal political positions (to the Liberty Movement and then to Fujimorism). These are the two biggest party losses suffered by this party. Consequently, from then on, Popular Action is generally identified with positions of the center, with factions of both the progressive left and the conservative right.[citation needed]

Towards the end of the 1990s, the former popularactionist Luis Castañeda founded the National Solidarity, which with an alliance with the Christian People's Party within the National Unity coalition won the municipal elections in the capital, Lima, in 2002.[citation needed]

Presidents of Peru from Popular Action

Belaúnde election poster 1980

Electoral history


Election Candidate First round Second round Result
Votes % Votes %
1956 Fernando Belaúnde 457,966 36.69 Lost Red XN
1962 Fernando Belaúnde 544,180 32.21 Lost Red XN
1963 Fernando Belaúnde 708,662 39.05 Won Green tickY
1980 Fernando Belaúnde 1,793,190 44.93 Won Green tickY
1985 Javier Alva Orlandini 472,627 7.26 Lost Red XN
1990 Mario Vargas Llosa[a] 2,163,323 32.57 2,708,291 37.62 Lost Red XN
1995 Raúl Diez Canseco 122,383 1.64 Lost Red XN
2000 Víctor Andrés García Belaúnde 46,523 0.42 Lost Red XN
2001 Did not contest N/A
2006 Valentín Paniagua[b] 706,156 5.75 Lost Red XN
2011 Alejandro Toledo[c] 2,289,561 15.63 Lost Red XN
2016 Alfredo Barnechea 1,069,360 6.97 Lost Red XN
2021 Yonhy Lescano 1,306,288 9.07 Lost Red XN
  1. ^ In coalition under Democratic Front
  2. ^ In coalition under Centre Front
  3. ^ In coalition under Possible Peru Electoral Alliance

Congress of the Republic

Election Leader Senate Chamber of Deputies Position Government
Votes % Seats +/– Votes % Seats +/–
1956 Fernando Belaúnde
5 / 53
21 / 182
3rd Minority
16 / 55
Increase 11
61 / 186
Increase 40 Increase 2nd Elections annulled
15 / 45
Decrease 1
39 / 139
Decrease 22 Steady 2nd Minority government
1980 1,694,952 40.92
26 / 60
Increase 11 1,413,233 38.92
98 / 180
Increase 59 Increase 1st Majority
1985 492,056 8.14
5 / 61
Decrease 21 491,581 8.43
10 / 180
Decrease 88 Decrease 4th Minority
1990 1,772,953 32.06
20 / 62
Increase 15 1,561,291 30.03
62 / 180
Increase 52 Increase 1st Minority
Election Leader Votes % Congress +/– Rank Government
1992 Fernando Belaúnde Boycotted
0 / 80
Decrease 62 Decrease 19th Extra-parliamentary
1995 146,018 3.34
4 / 120
Increase 4 Increase 6th Minority
2000 245,115 2.47
3 / 120
Decrease 1 Decrease 9th Minority
2001 393,433 4.18
3 / 120
Steady 0 Increase 7th Minority
2006 Víctor Andrés García Belaúnde 760,261 7.07
5 / 120
Increase 2 Increase 5th Minority
2011 Javier Alva Orlandini 1,904,180 14.83
5 / 130
Increase 1 Increase 3rd Minority
2016 Mesías Guevara 877,734 7.20
5 / 130
Steady 0 Decrease 6th Minority
2020 1,518,171 10.26
25 / 130
Increase 20 Increase 1st Majority coalition
2021 1,159,734 9.02
16 / 130
Decrease 9 Decrease 3rd Minority


  1. ^ Levitsky, Steven; Cameron, Maxwell A. (2009), "Democracy Without Parties? Political Parties and Regime Changes in Fujimori's Peru", Latin American Democratic Transformations: Institutions, Actors, Processes, John Wiley & Sons, p. 342
  2. ^ Seawright, Jason (2012), Party-System Collapse: The Roots of Crisis in Peru and Venezuela, Stanford University Press, p. 166
  3. ^ Carrión, Julio F. (2009), "The Persistent Attraction of Populism in the Andes", Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species?, Routledge, p. 238
  4. ^ Middlebrook, Kevin J. (2000), "Introduction: Conservative Parties, Elite Representation and Democracy in Latin America", Conservative Parties, the Right, and Democracy in Latin America, Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 29
  5. ^ Patrón Galindo, Pedro (2010), "Political marketing in a weak democracy? The Peruvian case", Global Political Marketing, Routledge, p. 202
  6. ^ "Marcha del Partido AP". accionpopular.com.pe (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  7. ^ Hugo Neira, "Peru" in JP Bernard et al., Guide to the Political Parties of South America, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, p. 443
  8. ^ "Elecciones Regionales" (in European Spanish). Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  9. ^ Aquino, Marco (26 July 2021). "Peru opposition to lead Congress in setback for socialist Castillo". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2021.

External links

  • Official site
  • Congress - Popular Action
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