Peruvian socialist Pedro Castillo overtook right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori in the country’s presidential election count on Monday and took the lead in the official count due to a late surge in votes in the country.
The official census of Sunday’s election showed outsider candidate Castillo with 50.1% and Fujimori with 49.9%, with over 94% of the votes cast being counted. The left candidate had lagged behind on the early count, but took up to 75% of some newly counted vote updates to steadily clarify.
Castillo, the son of smallholders, has promised to amend the Andean nation’s constitution and mining laws, terrifying copper producers and local markets, which fell sharply in trade on Monday when he won the race. Continue reading
The narrowness of the result could also lead to days of uncertainty and tension. The vote highlighted a sharp gap between the capital, Lima, and the country’s rural hinterland, which has fueled Castillo’s unexpected rise. Continue reading
Lucia Dammert, a Peruvian academic based in Chile, predicted the coming days would be volatile, with potential challenges for the votes, calls for recounts and street protests from supporters of the losing side.
“All we want now is democracy, that everything is democratic. That whoever wins, the other accepts it and does not cause any trouble,” said Lili Rocha, a voter in Lima, after a scuffle broke out overnight.
When the results leaked on Sunday night, the 51-year-old Castillo had rallied supporters to “defend the vote” when an election poll left him behind, despite later calling for calm.
Fujimori, 46, the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is in prison for human rights violations and corruption, also appealed for “prudence, peace and quiet from both groups”.
Castillo’s Free Peru Party announced on Twitter that the candidate, who had been elected in his northern rural home district, will arrive in the capital, Lima, on Monday morning to “ensure that the will of the people is respected”.
J.P. Morgan said in a note that it could take days to determine the final outcome of the election and the two candidates could choose to wait for that process to complete before declaring victory or admitting defeat.
An unofficial quick census from Ipsos Peru late Sunday gave Castillo a fraction of the lead after an exit poll said rival Fujimori would claim a victory, leaving the copper-rich country, investors and mining companies guessing. Continue reading
The latest data showed that Fujimori received 8.38 million votes against 8.42 million from Castillo. The slower rural ballot count has helped Castillo’s late indictment, though countless foreign ballots could still boost Fujimori.
“Unless the scenario represented by the fast count turns out to be incorrect too close to the call, we appear to be ready for a number of days of heightened uncertainty,” said J.P. Morgan.
Castillo’s sudden rise in notoriety since winning the first round of elections in April has unsettled markets and spooked mining companies over plans to drastically increase taxes on mineral profits and impending nationalization.
However, analysts say that whoever wins will have a weakened mandate in the face of sharp divisions in Peru and face a fragmented Congress in which no party holds a majority, potentially blocking major reforms.
The two candidates have pledged completely different remedies to a country that went through three presidents in one week last year and suffered a sharp economic slump from the world’s deadliest per capita COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading
Fujimori is committed to following the free market model and maintaining economic stability in Peru, the second largest copper producer in the world, with “a steadfast hand from a mother”. Continue reading
Castillo, who has become a champion for the poor, has promised to reformulate the constitution to strengthen the role of the state and draw more of its profits from mining companies. Continue reading
Street vendor Natalia Flores said she had not voted for any of the candidates but was confident the winner will lead the country beyond recent political unrest and pandemic.
“Whoever is ahead, I think they have to do a good job, because in Peru the pandemic issue is economically terrible for us. The work is unstable,” she said.
“Whether it’s Mr. Castillo or Ms. Keiko (Fujimori), I hope they’ll do a good job over the next five years.”