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

  • Fujimori trails by 0.3 percentage point as count goes on
  • Both candidates are market friendly and plan to spend big

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 50.15 percent of votes compared with 49.84 percent for Keiko Fujimori with 97 percent of ballots counted, according to the latest tally by Peru’s electoral office. The gap of 0.3 percentage point compares with 1 percentage point earlier Monday.

Kuczynski greets supporters in Lima.

Photographer: Karel Navarro/Bloomberg

The 77-year-old Kucynski 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.”

‘Optimism and Modesty’

The electoral office has counted 99 percent of the national vote and still has to tally some ballots from overseas. 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, Electoral office head Mariano Cucho said.

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.

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 toward 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 last week of the campaign 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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