Peru’s presidential race too close to call

By Alvaro Mellizo

Lima, Jun 6 (EFE).- Peru on Sunday closed out its most polarized electoral contest in its democratic history with a result margin so narrow that a winner between Pedro Castillo (left) and Keiko Fujimori (right) cannot yet be announced, paving way for a long and stormy vote count that could last several days.

Castillo occupies the lead with 50.2 percent compared to 49.8 percent of his rival, according to a quick count by pollster Ipsos, with a 1 percent margin of error.

At the close of the voting booths, an exit poll by the same company, less precise than the quick count, also reflected a technical tie, but with a slight advantage to Fujimori.

It is therefore not feasible to award victory to either contender and a full count is necessary, including of vote cast abroad, with results not expected before Tuesday.

The count by the National Office of Electoral Processes started Sunday night, but it is not expected to provide relevant data until well into Monday.

In addition, the authorities have already warned that the vote count in Peru favors the urban over the rural and therefore the first votes will largely favor Fujimori over Castillo.

Before the quick count came out, both candidates asked supporters for patience and calm, and to wait for the final official results to be known before any celebration.

If the result anticipated by the quick count is confirmed, Castillo, a religious politician of humble peasant origins, coming from the Andean interior, would assume the presidency of the country on July 28, the bicentennial of Peru’s independence.

Despite starting as a relative unknown, Castillo became the most voted candidate in the first round in April, with close to 20 percent of the votes, and dislodged the entire Peruvian political establishment with his proposals for constitutional reform and change of the economic paradigm.

Faced with his surprise victory, the entire economic, political and social right of the country allied with Fujimori to try to stop this school teacher and union leader.

The entire campaign of Fujimori, who is extraordinarily unpopular among Peruvians, was based on her defense of the economic “model” against the “radical” Castillo and a choice between “freedom or communism.”

In this sense, the campaigning divided the country in two, not only on economic and political criterion, but also in geographic and demographic areas.

Castillo has overwhelmingly dominated the rural, impoverished Andean interior, which has not been able to take advantage of the country’s sustained economic growth over the past decades and has always remained far from the center of power.

On the other side is the city of Lima and the coastal areas of the north of the country, which centralize economic and social power since colonial times, do not identify with the peasant communities, and whose progress under the economic model has been evident.

The polarization of the campaign, which has forced Peruvians to take sides between two extreme positions, hides the fact that most citizens consider both options bad.

Thus, the election for the “lesser evil” has dictated the vote and whoever is ultimately the winner will have to earn their legitimacy.

The winner will receive a country in the midst of a serious health and economic crisis, which in 2020 suffered a recession of 11.6 percent of its gross domestic product. EFE


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