World

Kuczynski Narrowly Leads Fujimori in Peru’s Presidential Election

Although most polling agencies say Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will likely be Peru’s next president, it is still too early to call the election as he only has a one percentage point lead over Keiko Fujimori at this time.

A combination file photo shows Peru's presidential candidates (L-R) Keiko Fujimori after voting and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski arriving to vote, during the presidential election in Lima, Peru, in these April 10, 2016 file photos. Credit: Reuters/Mariana Bazo (L) and Guadalupe Pardo/Files

A combination file photo shows Peru’s presidential candidates (L-R) Keiko Fujimori after voting and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski arriving to vote, during the presidential election in Lima, Peru, in these April 10, 2016 file photos. Credit: Reuters/Mariana Bazo (L) and Guadalupe Pardo/Files

Lima: 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 on Sunday.

The 77-year-old Kuczynski had 50.58% support while Fujimori had 49.42% with about 36% 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% of the vote and Fujimori 49.5%, a technical tie. Another pollster, GfK, gave Kuczynski 50.8% of votes to Fujimori’s 49.2%.

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

Fujimori said in an upbeat speech on Sunday 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.

(Reuters)