Kuczynski’s Lead Narrows in Too-Close-to-Call Peru Election

  • Kuczynski leading Fujimori by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent
  • Both candidates are market friendly and plan to spend big

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski greets supporters from a balcony after the elections in Lima on Sunday.

Photographer: Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images

Former finance minister and Wall Street veteran Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has a slender lead in Peru’s too-close-to call presidential election, with the margin narrowing as more votes come in.

Kuczynski won 50.28 percent of votes compared with 49.72 percent for Keiko Fujimori with 94 percent of ballots counted, according to the latest tally by Peru’s electoral office. The gap of 0.56 percentage point compares with a 1 percentage point gap earlier Monday.

The 77-year-old has promised to apply decades of financial and public service experience to spur employment and infrastructure investment in the Latin American nation. His candidacy is supported by voters concerned Fujimori, 41, may follow in the footsteps of her father Alberto, who is serving jail sentences for corruption and authorizing death squads during his 1990 to 2000 government.

“I don’t remember an election as close as this, and Peru’s not had many elections,” said Guillermo Loli, head of opinion polling at Ipsos Peru, by phone from Lima. “At this stage, every vote counts.”

The electoral office has counted 98 percent of the national vote and still has to tally votes from overseas. Electoral office head Mariano Cucho said the next update will be announced Tuesday morning. Ipsos’s quick count of foreign votes had Kuczynski with a narrow lead. The vote count likely will be completed toward the end of the week, Cucho said.

‘Optimism and Modesty’

Peru’s sol gained 0.7 percent to 3.314 per dollar at the close of trading in Lima while the country’s overseas bonds due in 2025 added 0.5 cent to 133.62 cents on the dollar.

Speaking from the balcony of his campaign headquarters in Lima on Sunday evening, Kuczynski told supporters he took the early results with “optimism and modesty,” and urged them to wait for the official count.

Keiko Fujimori, presidential candidate and the right-leaning daughter of a jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, gestures while displaying voting card to supporters after casting her ballot in Lima, Peru on Sunday, June 5, 2016. Peruvians are voting in a presidential runoff between an ex-central banker and the daughter of an autocrat, both pro-business and both statistically tied in the latest polls. Photographer: Karel Navarro/Bloomberg
Keiko Fujimori.
Photographer: Karel Navarro/Bloomberg

He went on to stress his willingness to negotiate with other parties should he win office. “We’re conciliatory and therefore we’ll be able to govern Peru towards a brighter future,” he told cheering supporters.

Fujimori’s party won 73 of the 130 seats in Congress in a parliamentary vote in April while Kuczynski won 18. It’s the biggest parliamentary majority in two decades.

Father’s Legacy

Keiko has promised to take what was best from her father’s era, including smashing the terror group Shining Path and defeating hyperinflation, to tackle rising crime and build the economy. While both candidates are market friendly, her style is more populist, his more internationalist.

After trailing in the polls for much of the past month, support for Kuczynski surged in the past week amid allegations of corruption surrounding those close to Fujimori.

“I’ve never seen an election in Peru where one candidate fell back and then re-emerged like this,” said Cynthia McClintock, a political scientist at George Washington University. “It’s astounding.”

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