Peru’s Kuczynski narrowly leads Fujimori in election

LIMA, (Reuters) – Center-right economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had a slight lead over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of an imprisoned former president as early results came in from Peru’s presidential election yesterday.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

The 77-year-old Kuczynski had 50.58 percent support while Fujimori had 49.42 percent with about 36 percent of votes counted by the ONPE electoral authority,

Earlier, polling firm Ipsos said its quick count of a sample of votes gave Kuczynski, known in Peru as PPK, about 50.5 percent of the vote and Fujimori 49.5 percent, a technical tie. Another pollster, GfK, gave Kuczynski 50.8 percent of votes to Fujimori’s 49.2 percent.

“The most likely scenario is that PPK wins the election and becomes the next president of Peru,” said Alfredo Torres, an analyst with Ipsos, although he cautioned it was too early to call the election because the candidates were separated by only 1 percentage point.

“We take this preliminary verdict with optimism, but with modesty,” a grinning Kuczynski told cheering supporters from a balcony at his Lima campaign headquarters. He told the crowd to be vigilant until the final official results were announced.

Fujimori, 41, a former congresswoman, had a big lead in the first round of voting in April and was ahead in most opinion polls a week ago. But her advantage melted away in the last days of the

Keiko Fujimori
Keiko Fujimori

campaign, evoking memories of her close defeat to Ollanta Humala in the last presidential election in 2011.

Fujimori said in an upbeat speech last evening that rural votes from “deep Peru” still needed to be counted.

“This is a tight vote without a doubt … what we’re seeing is the vitality of democracy in our country, and that fills me with pride,” Fujimori told her orange-clad supporters at her campaign headquarters in Lima.

Seeking to be the South American country’s first female president, she has spent the past five years trying to broaden her appeal beyond loyalists to her father, Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for graft and human rights abuses.

Fujimori had ousted her father’s staunchest defenders from her party’s congressional ticket and stepped up campaigning in provinces she lost to the left-leaning Humala in 2011.

But many voters remained wary after scandals linked her new associates to money laundering and drug trafficking.

“I voted for PPK because I don’t think Keiko Fujimori would be the one governing, her father would be,” said Luz Vite, 34.

Kuczynski, a former prime minister and investment banker, has portrayed himself as honest and experienced enough to make good on promises to revive sluggish economic growth, and has captured the anti-Fujimori vote despite having endorsed her over Humala in 2011.

If he wins, Kuczynski would have to reckon with a solid majority of Fujimori’s party in Congress and a leftist party that has promised not to align with either of them.

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