Neck and Neck: Elections in Peru depend on voters abroad

The candidates in Peru's presidential run-off election were neck and neck on Monday, but the final outcome will likely be delayed for several days while votes from abroad are tallied.

With 90 per cent of the votes counted, Liberal economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was ahead on 50.5 per cent with right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori on 49.5 per cent, according to official results. The outcome of the election looks to be be dependent on votes coming in from abroad.

The percentage difference between the two candidates translates to slightly more than 160,000 voters. Of the 23 million Peruvians eligible to vote, 900,000 are from outside the country.

The results of the election could first be announced on Friday or Saturday, said the Peruvian news agency Andina, citing Mariano Cucho Espinoza, the head of the electoral authority ONPE.

Both candidates asked supporters to wait calmly for the results; Kuczynski said that if he were announced the winner, he would push for consensus and work with all parties.

In the new parliament Kuczynski's coalition only has 18 of the 130 seats, while Fujimori has the majority with 73. Fujimori said she was optimistic "on the road to victory."

In the first round of voting in April, Fujimori, leader of the rightist Popular Force Party and the daughter of the country's imprisoned former president, won 40 per cent of votes to Kuczynski's 21 per cent.

But Kuczynski has rallied support from former rivals concerned about how Fujimori might continue the divisive legacy of her father, Alberto Fujimori.

The elder Fujimori ruled Peru with an iron fist from 1990-2000. He was convicted on human rights and corruption charges and is serving 25 years in prison. Supporters credit him with cracking down on the Maoist rebel group Shining Path and reforming the country's economy.

Kuczynski, 77, leads the liberal Peruvians for Change party.

Supporters laud his long experience in government as an economy and energy minister and cabinet chief, but he faces criticism for his advanced age and work as a lobbyist and investment banker in the United States.

Before the second round of elections, the left-wing politician Veronika Mendoza, who came in third place with 18 per cent of the votes in the first round, called on her supporters to keep Fujimori out of power.

Voters should have recognized that Fujimori was not able to distance herself from corrupt politicians, she said. However, this is not an indication of support for a Kuczynski presidency, Mendoza said Sunday evening.

Peruvians between 18 and 70 are required by law to vote, and the last election saw an 82 per cent participation rate.

The winner is expected to take office July 28.

Last update: Mon, 06/06/2016 - 18:44
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