Peru’s Keiko Fujimori clings to hope of winning tight run-off

Daughter of imprisoned former president believes that rural votes will give her lead over Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Keiko Fujimori greets her supporters.
Keiko Fujimori greets her supporters.STRINGER (REUTERS)
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Kuczynski acaricia la victoria por apenas 100.000 votos en Perú

On Monday morning, Peru’s presidential candidates Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Keiko Fujimori were only separated by 1.1% of votes, according to an official count by the country’s election commission.

By noon on Monday, Kuczynski’s lead in the presidential run-off had narrowed to 0.6%, and a few hours later it was further reduced to 0.5%.

The figures breathed new optimism into the Fujimori team: the leader of Popular Force appeared before the cameras with a smile on her face and gave a thumbs-up sign.

We still need to count the absentee ballots, which tend to go to PPK, and the rural votes, which favor Fujimori, and these could neutralize one another

Carlos Meléndez, analyst

Still, the 41-year-old daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori fell short of predicting victory for herself over the former World Bank economist.

“We’re going to wait for the final result prudently,” she said. The message was repeated by three of her spokespeople.

“We’re still a very short distance away,” said congress-member Pedro Spadaro. “We need to be calm, patient and positive. The result has already shortened the distance to 0.5%, which is around 60 to 65,000 votes. As rural votes continue to come in, we see this distance getting smaller, and we are sure that we will revert the situation and take the lead.”

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Spadaro is one of the few spokesmen left in the Fujimori team after it emerged that their campaign manager, Joaquín Ramírez, is allegedly being investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration for money laundering. Two weeks ago Keiko’s running mate, José Chlimper, provided a television station with a memory stick containing what he described as evidence to the contrary.

“Keiko is very calm, very confident about the rural vote,” added Spadaro.

But analysts seemed to think this might not be enough to snatch the lead from the Alliance for Great Change, known popularly as PPK after Kuczynski’s initials.

“We still need to count the absentee ballots, which tend to go to PPK, and the rural votes, which favor Fujimori, and these could neutralize one another: perhaps the difference will not be large enough to alter the situation,” said political analyst Carlos Meléndez on television station Canal N.

Keiko is very calm, very confident about the rural vote

Congressman Pedro Spadaro

Meanwhile, PPK vice-presidential nominee Martín Vizcarra said he didn’t think their apparent victory would be reverted, but would rather wait until the final count. Some experts said that it is mathematically impossible for Fujimori to win at this point.

With 92% of votes counted, 247 lists have been contested by party officials and sent to special election authorities who must now decide whether those votes get counted or not.

A lot of people are now wondering what PPK will do if its victory is confirmed – specifically, if it will reach out to Fujimori by offering her team some Cabinet positions.

Indira Huilca, a congresswoman for Frente Amplio, told EL PAÍS that her party will be active in the opposition against the government’s economic policies.

“Let’s hope the PPK learns a lesson from these results and from the citizens who are out in the streets. It wouldn’t be convenient for [the government] to have people protesting in the streets, that is why they should seek ways to bring them over to their side.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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