Leftist former soldier rises in Peru election poll

AP News
Posted: Mar 27, 2011 12:58 PM
Leftist former soldier rises in Peru election poll

A left-leaning former army officer has risen quickly into contention for Peru's presidency may even be leading the tight five-person race for the first-round vote on April 10, according to a poll released Sunday.

Ollanta Humala, who lost the 2006 election to President Alan Garcia, was favored by 21.2 percent of those polled across the country on March 21-24. That was up from 15.7 percent a week before in the CPI poll sponsored by RPP radio.

Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori, daughter of a disgraced former president, was backed by 19.9 percent and former President Alejandro Toledo was favored by 18.6 percent. Both are roughly even with Humala because the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

The race is volatile because roughly a quarter of voters say they are still undecided or might change their minds.

Humala favors a stronger state role in the economy and he was once close to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, though he has distanced himself in recent years from Chavez, who is unpopular in Peru.

Toledo, an economist who was the first Peruvian president of largely Indian ancestry, has slipped back into the pack after leading with about 30 percent in early February.

The poll shows a race so tight that the candidate who could beat any other in a likely runoff, former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda, is running fifth in the pack and could be eliminated in the first round of voting.

Castaneda was the first choice of just 15.5 percent of those polled. But in head-to-head competition, he topped Humala 52-37, led Fujimori 49-33 and was ahead of Toledo 50-34.

While Humala has risen quickly, he still trails Toledo and Fujimori in a runoff scenario.

Also in contention is former Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was backed by 16.1 percent of the 4,688 people polled in person across the country.