Peru election: Pedro Castillo gains last-minute lead

08 Juin, 2021, 17:50 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Peruvians head to the polls in a presidential run-off election to choose between Fujimori the daughter of jailed ex President Alberto Fu

Far-left presidential candidates are also in front in early election polls in Chile and Colombia, where unrest has been mounting. Early counts were showing a slight lead for Fujimori, the daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori, who had strong support in urban areas. Keiko Fujimori is under investigation over campaign funding in her 2011 and 2016 presidential bids and has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention.

Her father is serving a 25-year sentence for graft and human rights abuses and remains a divisive figure in Peruvian politics.

The country now has the highest death rate from the coronavirus, with more than 500 fatalities reported per 100,000 people. Peru has had four presidents over the past three years. He has vowed to alter multinational companies' tax regimes and wants to rewrite the country's constitution.

He held prayers and an election breakfast at his adobe home in the remote northern Andes village of Chugur before heading to the nearby town of Tacabamba to vote.

The city government installed a stage in the main square, which was filled with supporters and music.

Peruvians are striving for political stability as seven of the country's last 10 leaders have been either convicted of or investigated for corruption. Of those, Fujimori was the preferred candidate for 52.9% of voters, while left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo was the preferred option for 47.1%. The breakdown of the ballots yet to be counted - some from overseas that tend to favor Fujimori but more from rural areas where Castillo has been outperforming - suggests Fujimori's path to victory is narrowing.

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Nevertheless, she scraped into the runoff by taking just 13 per cent, in a field of 18 candidates, to Castillo's 19 per cent. "Keiko's only possibility of growing her support was to create a monster, and she has been extremely successful", says Giovana Peñaflor, of Imasen pollsters.

"They promise everything until they get into government but then they forget about the poor, they just think of themselves and their own people", she told Reuters.

Some 160,000 police and soldiers were deployed to guarantee peace on election day as 25 million people were due to vote, plus another one million from the Peruvian diaspora living in 75 countries around the world. Normally, few of them vote - only 0.8 per cent in the first round of the election in April, when COVID-19 lockdowns were commonplace.

The teacher, who likes to campaign in a cowboy hat and often carries an oversized pencil - the symbol of his Free Peru party - won almost 19% of the votes, followed by Ms Fujimori with 13.4%.

He has previously warned against fraud in the election and said he would "be the first to summon the people" if he saw evidence of foul play.

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