Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Keiko Fujimori are locked in a neck-and-neck battle to decide who will be Peru’s next president according to exit polls taken during today’s runoff election.
Two of the three exit polls revealed a slight lead but within the margin of error for the ex-economics minister ahead of the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. GfK gave Kuczynski a 51.2% to 48.8% advantage, while Ipsos Perú reveled a tighter margin of 50.4% versus 49.6%. In contrast, pollster CPI claimed that Keiko would be ahead by a slim 2.3% margin with 51.1% support against 48.8% for Kuczynski.
Keiko easily won the first round of elections on April 10th with nearly double the percentage of the second-place Kuczynski. Neither candidate established a significant advantage in the polls in the nearly two months of additional campaigning. Although a CPI survey carried out on May 23rd and 24th gave her 7.1% lead, polls taken over the past week showed a virtual draw between the two.
In the run up to today’s runoff, Keiko has been the target of accusations alleging her campaign and Fuerza Popular political party has been tainted by corruption. For example, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allegedly investigated Fuerza Popular chairman Joaquin Ramirez for purportedly laundering $15 million and for possible ties to suspected drug trafficker Miguel Arévalo Ramírez. Keiko defended Ramirez and accused her detractors of mounting a “dirty war” against him, which may not have been seen so favorably by Peruvians wary of corruption.
Unlike her failed presidential bid four years ago against current leader Ollanta Humala, Keiko has been more critical of her father who has been imprisoned on human rights abuses during his decade in power. She pledged that if elected she would not issue a presidential pardon to Alberto and would provide greater reparations to female victims of her father’s forced sterilizations program.
Her critics, however, point out that several allies of her campaign are reportedly “former officials from her father’s regime or people otherwise close to him, some of whom are implicated in the current investigation of money laundering in her 2011 campaign.” They also worry that a victorious Keiko would return to the iron-handed rule of her father included curbing civil liberties and enabling human rights violations during in order to combat the Shining Path rebels. As a result, Kuczynski in the week prior to the runoff received key endorsement by former presidential candidates representing leftist and conservative factions.
Kuczynski, who is best known by the initials of his name, has not been absence of criticism either. Questions have been raised over the age of the 77-yer-old (especially with respect to the much younger Keiko) as well as perceptions that the former naturalized U.S. citizen is a foreigner. Despite running as the anti-Keiko candidate and blasting her ties to her father, Kuczynski last April said if elected he would sign into law any proposal to allow older convicts like Alberto Fujimori to serve their prison sentences at home.
Whoever succeeds Humala, who earlier this year had a 12% approval rating, will face numerous political and economic obstacles in office:
For many however, the economy is not the priority — the poverty rate and crime rank as Peruvians main concerns, recent surveys revealed. The country is the world’s second-largest producer of coca leaf, the prime ingredient in cocaine, and many are angry that the huge profits from mining over the decade have failed to significantly deliver a better standard of living for the country’s 30 million citizens.YouTube Source – DW (English)
Online Sources (English) – Reuters, Buenos Aires Herald, La Nacion, RPP
Online Sources (Spanish) – La Republica, GlobalPost, The Latin Americanist, Peru Reports, IPS, Vice News