Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a jailed former president, led Peru’s election on Sunday but she likely faces a tight run-off against centrist economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in a vote that would protect the country’s free-market economic model. Fujimori, whose father Alberto was Peru’s authoritarian leader throughout the 1990s, fell well short of the 50 percent needed for outright victory in the first round of voting and will likely be vulnerable in a second-round vote on June 5. With about 40 percent of votes counted, Fujimori had 39 percent support while Kuczynski, a former World Bank economist, had 24 percent and leftist lawmaker Veronika Mendoza trailed with 17 percent. A quick-count by pollster Ipsos also showed Kuczynski securing second place and heading to the run-off. Despite her lead on Sunday, polls have shown opposition to Fujimori has grown since the start of the year and many opposed to her father’s divisive rule will likely rally behind her rival, whether Kuczynski or Mendoza.
The son of European immigrants, Kuczynski is a pro-business economist and a former finance minister but is more moderate on some social issues than Fujimori, 40, and does not have the baggage associated with her last name. “We don’t want a polarized nation,” he said after dancing in front of supporters on Sunday night, although he urged calm until official results were in. “We’ve made progress but not enough. We’re going to be a progressive government, socially and economically.”
Fujimori has said she would drive economic growth forward at the end of a decade-long mining boom by tapping a rainy day fund and issuing new debt to fund badly needed infrastructure. She has portrayed herself as the only candidate who would be tough enough on crime.
Fujimori’s chances in the run-off will depend largely on whether she can distance herself from her father, who was convicted of corruption and human rights abuses tied to a crackdown on leftist insurgents during his 1990-2000 rule.