With 90.04% of the official count in Peru, right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, 46, holds 50.35% of the vote against 49.64% of the left Pedro Castillo, 51. The difference, which stands at just over 114,000 votes, reflects the polarization of the Peruvian political scene as the country chooses the fifth person to hold the presidency since 2018.
The first reports from Onpe, the electoral body responsible for the official counting of votes, contain votes from urban areas. The remaining percentage, which takes a longer analysis, comes from rural Peru and citizens who vote abroad – strongholds which, according to voting intent polls, tend to favor Castillo.
Keiko’s voters even claimed victory when Onpe released the first reports. With 42% of the votes counted, the daughter of the autocrat Alberto Fujimori, who ruled the country between 1990 and 2000, came first with nearly six points ahead.
The numbers set off explosions of jubilation in the wealthy neighborhoods of Lima, where people flocked to windows shouting “Long live Peru!” And “Keiko won!” The more conservative electorate fears the country will “fall into communism” if Castillo is elected president.
The candidate, however, reacted sparingly and urged her voters to be cautious because of the small margin of difference. “There is no winner or loser here. What must be sought is the unity of all Peruvians,” said Keiko.
A few hours earlier, the exit poll of the Ipsos Institute had also given a victory to the right – 50.3% of the vote against 49.7% for Castillo. Later, however, a quick tally from the same institute revealed the opposite, with 50.2% for the rural teacher and 49.8% for the former MP.
In a statement, Castillo’s party, Peru Libre, called Ipsos’ second uprising “misleading”, despite figures showing a slight advantage over its candidate. In the statement, the caption calls for a revision of the voting record under review by observers from both parties involved in the presidential conflict.
Keiko Fujimori could become the first president of Peru, a goal she has pursued for 15 years, since she took it upon herself to rebuild from the ashes the right-wing political movement founded by her father in 1990.
But losing at the polls wouldn’t just mean her third defeat at the polls – she has already been a candidate in 2011 and 2016, losing both times in the second round. She would also have to stand trial at the risk of ending up in prison.
Keiko is under investigation in the case of the illegal contributions of Brazilian entrepreneur Odebrecht, a scandal that has also affected four former Peruvian presidents, and has already spent 16 months in preventive detention for him.
Married and mother of two daughters, if she wins, she will set a precedent by being the first woman in the Americas to come to power in the footsteps of her father, whose tenure has been marked by a series of allegations of human rights violations. .
On the other hand, Castillo, who, if successful, will be the first Peruvian president without ties to political, economic and cultural elites. Trade unionist and high school teacher, he became known nationally for having led teachers’ strikes, the most famous of them in 2017. He advocates wage increases for employees in the education sector. He has an anti-corruption rhetoric and proposes to dissolve the Constitutional Court and the 1993 Constitution – according to him, those responsible for authorizing irregular practices.
The winner of the election is due to assume the presidency of Peru on July 28. The representative will have to take the reins of a country in crisis that has had four different leaders since 2018.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, known as PPK, resigned that year, accusing the opposition of creating an “ungovernable climate”. His successor, Martín Vizcarra, was removed from his post in November 2020 after facing two impeachment proceedings on charges of receiving bribes, which would place him in the category of ” moral incapacity “, preventing his continuation in office.
As a result, MP Manuel Merino de Lama took over, for only six days, who resigned after the episodes of violence that followed the institutional crisis. The country’s current leader, Francisco Sagasti, has taken over the interim government and is expected to remain in office until the transition to Keiko or Castillo.
Peru also has the highest death rate in the world from the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 185,000 deaths in a population of 33 million people. Last year, the health crisis forced the economy to be semi-paralyzed for more than 100 days, resulting in a recession and a drop in GDP of 11.12%.