Allegations of fraud in the Peruvian presidential election, made by Keiko Fujimori, faded a few hours later. With 96.79% of the ballot boxes selected, she is presented this Tuesday (8) with 49.74% of the vote, behind Pedro Castillo, who leads with 50.25%.
Monday evening (7), the right-wing candidate claimed that “several irregularities” were detected in the ballot, which would lead to “systematic fraud” in the ballot in the country.
The jury for the national elections, however, indicated that the observation mission of the Inter-American Union of Electoral Bodies presented a report in which it affirms that the election was conducted regularly and successfully.
The statement was corroborated by the OAS (Organization of American States) Election Observation Mission, headed by former Paraguayan Foreign Minister Rubén Ramírez Lezcano. For the body, any non-compliance “did not compromise the election as a whole” and can be “resolved by legal means”.
At a press conference, Keiko presented videos and photos as supposed evidence that election records – a sort of summaries of section ballots – had been altered. The records would also indicate the training offered to members of the board of directors and inspectors of Castillo to commit illegal acts that would guarantee their victory.
In Peru, it is the heads of the polling stations who collect the votes of each place in one minute, watched by other officials. One of the videos featured shows a Castillo supporter ordering board members to arrive before other section members to ensure they could check the minutes.
Analyst Fernando Tuesta, former holder of Onpe, the Peruvian electoral body, believes that Keiko’s attitude in pointing out a possible fraud is “disgusting”. “He has already failed to recognize the results of previous opportunities. And, because of that position, he has brought the country to levels of ungovernability that we have experienced until today.”
When he appeared in front of Castillo in the first reports released by Onpe, with nearly six percentage points ahead, Keiko reacted sparingly and urged his constituents to be cautious, saying there was no neither winner nor loser in the elections and defending the unity of the Peruvians.
The day before, during the breakfast with the voters which is a tradition for the presidential candidates, she had declared that she would accept the results and had pledged to respect the will of the people. “This will be the decision that our country will define, whether I should serve as the president of Peru or as a private citizen,” she said on Sunday (6).
Keiko’s speech, however, changed tone as the poll progressed and Castillo took the lead. The small difference, which this Tuesday morning equals around 87,000 votes, reflects the polarization of the Peruvian political scene as the country chooses the fifth person to hold the presidency since 2018.
The daughter of autocrat Alberto Fujimori, who ruled Peru from 1990 to 2000, summoned reporters late Monday night to accuse the existence of fraud and claim there is a “clear intention to boycott the will of the people” . “We are receiving news of irregularities and that is why we are asking for help, voters and supporters,” he said.
The Ipsos Institute’s exit poll, released shortly after the polls closed on Sunday, yielded the right-wing victory – 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.
If Castillo’s victory materializes, he will be the first Peruvian president without ties to political, economic and cultural elites. A union member and high school teacher, he became known nationally for leading teacher strikes, the most notorious of which was in 2017.
Castillo defends higher salaries for employees in the education sector, has an anti-corruption rhetoric and proposes to dissolve the Constitutional Court and the 1993 Constitution – according to him officials to allow irregular practices.
One of her successes also represents Keiko’s third defeat at the polls – she was previously a candidate in 2011 and 2016, losing both times in the second round.
Suddenly, the politician, who was responsible for rebuilding almost from its ashes the right-wing political movement founded by his father in 1990, 15 years ago, should 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.
If she reverses the outcome and wins, she will set a precedent by being the first woman in the Americas to rise to power in the footsteps of her father, whose tenure was marked by a series of allegations of human rights violations.
The winner of the election is expected to take office on July 28, and the representative will have to take the reins of a country in crisis that has had four different leaders since 2018.