Peru presidential election tightens to tie two days before vote

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 03, 2016 12:13 PM

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s presidential race tightened in the final days of campaigning with polls showing support for longtime front-runner Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the jailed former president, slipping ahead of Sunday's vote.

Fujimori, 41, who enjoyed a 5 percentage point lead less than a week ago, is now in a statistical tie with former World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, according to three surveys taken since Tuesday.

"We are reaching a very Peruvian finale to this election, with uncertainty over who is going to win," said Fernando Tuesta, a political analyst at Lima's Catholic University, referring to the unpredictable nature of Peruvian politics.

"Anything can happen," he said in an interview on Friday.

Fujimori won 50.3 percent of valid votes in a mock voting exercise conducted by pollster Gfk on Wednesday and Thursday, compared with Kuczynski's 49.7 percent. The survey seen by Reuters but not made public in Peru had a 2.3 point margin of error, up or down.

The conservative Fujimori ended her campaign by dancing in front of thousands of orange-clad fans on the outskirts of Lima Thursday night, and told voters her opponent did not know their country as well as she did and would not be tough enough on crime.

Kuczynski, 77, held a more subdued closing event in the southern city of Arequipa, as supporters chanted "democracy yes! dictatorship no!" in reference to Fujimori's father Alberto, who governed Peru from 1990 until 2000 and is now in jail for corruption and human rights abuses.

Fujimori, whose brand of right-wing populism appeals more to poor voters, has pledged to respect democracy and distanced herself from her father since losing the 2011 election. Some voters still support the elder Fujimori, however, and say measures like shutting Congress were necessary to end the Maoist Shining Path insurgency.

Both candidates favor maintaining Peru's free-market economic model. They defeated a leftist candidate in a first-round vote in April, as left-wing politics has fallen out of favor in much of Latin America.

Fujimori won 51.6 percent of valid votes in a mock voting exercise conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday by CPI, compared with Kuczynski's 48.4 percent. CPI's survey had a 2.3 point margin of error, up or down. A CPI poll conducted May 26 and 27 gave Fujimori 54.8 percent of valid votes.

A poll by Datum had similar results.

(Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)