Peru's presidential vote too close to call

  • 06/06/2016
Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Reuters)
Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Reuters)

It's still too close to call the winner of Peru's tight presidential election but two exit polls are giving economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski a very slight edge over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of an imprisoned former president.

Fujimori's lead over Kuczynski melted away in recent days, evoking memories of her close defeat to outgoing President Ollanta Humala in 2011.

Three exit polls put the race in a technical tie on Sunday (local time).

Ipsos and GfK gave Kuczynski, 77, a very slight edge, while CPI said Fujimori was in front.

Fujimori, 41, who could be Peru's first female president, has spent the past five years seeking to broaden her appeal beyond loyalists to her father, Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for graft and human rights abuses.

She ousted his staunchest defenders from her party's congressional ticket and stepped up campaigning in provinces she lost to left-leaning Humala in 2011.

While both candidates are fiscal conservatives who would maintain a free-market model in the resource-rich Andean economy, their styles and approaches differ widely.

The election pits the Fujimori family's brand of conservative populism against Kuczynski's elite background and stiff technocratic style, which has curbed his appeal in poor provinces and working-class districts.

Fujimori, who has repeatedly said democracy is not at risk, waged a more energetic campaign than her rival visiting far-flung villages and portraying her rival as out of touch with struggling Peruvians.

Many in rural provinces have fond memories of Fujimori's father, who built schools and hospitals and is credited with ending the violent Shining Path insurgency.

She has responded to the top voter concern, crime, with a hard-line stance that includes support for the death penalty and promises to lock up the most dangerous criminals in five new prisons.