June 7, 2021 2:25:58 pm
Conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori is slightly ahead of socialist rival Pedro Castillo in Peru’s nail-biting presidential runoff, according to an Ipsos exit poll released on Sunday evening.
The statistical tie had Fujimori leading with 50.3% of the vote, while Castillo had 49.7%, within the margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to the poll.
The results do not include overseas voters, who electoral officials said could be key in swinging the results. Polls closed in the election at 7 p.m. (0000 GMT). A fast count by Ipsos is due at 9:30 p.m. (0230 GMT on Monday), with the first official results expected to start arriving at 11:30 p.m. (0430 GMT).
Millions voted on Sunday to pick between two candidates espousing clashing ideologies in a close runoff that has deeply divided voters along class and geographical lines.
Opinion polls up to the day of the election showed a statistical dead heat, with Fujimori, who had earlier trailed leftist Pedro Castillo, pulling slightly ahead at the end of campaigning.
Both have pledged vastly different remedies for rescuing Peru from the economic doldrums brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. Fujimori, 46, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, has pledged to follow the free-market model and maintain economic stability in the world’s second-largest copper producer.
Castillo, 51, a teacher, union leader and son of peasant farmers, has promised to redraft the country’s constitution to strengthen the role of the state, take a larger portion of profits from mining firms and nationalize key industries.
But with neither candidate having a clear lead in the polls, hints of possible electoral challenges by both camps and a deep mistrust of the political class generated by decades of corruption and instability could pose problems after the election.
Voting in the Lima district of Surco on Sunday afternoon, Fujimori noted a handful of allegations of doctored voting papers discovered in the capital and the country´s interior.
“We know that there have been incidents today. We hope that the electoral bodies will take action on the matter and sanctions will be issued accordingly,” she said. “I also expect our party officials to be on their guard.”She praised the “grannies and grandpas” turning out to vote against a backdrop of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting the country and a slow start to the vaccination campaign.
Castillo voted earlier in the day in his rural heartland of the northern Peruvian Andes, accompanied by a crowd of supporters chanting: “Yes we can!”He previously warned against fraud in the election and said he would “be the first to summon the people” if he saw evidence of foul play.
But he told crowds on Sunday he would respect the result, and hoped Peruvians would unify behind the successful candidate.
“If we don’t unite, we can’t move the country forward,” Castillo said.
‘FOR GOOD OF ALL PERUVIANS’
In Lima, voters made their way to polling stations by bike, roller skates and on foot to avoid long traffic jams that built up as the day progressed.
Among those casting his vote in Lima was Luis Pizango, who said that for him, “transparency” was key to a successful election. “May Peru win for the good of all Peruvians,” he said.
In polls, urban and higher-income citizens have indicated a preference for Fujimori, while the rural poor largely support Castillo.
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