The early official results from Peru’s presidential elections gave a small lead to right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, but the election was too close to call as of early Monday.
Peruvian electoral authority ONPE said so far it had counted 42% of the vote. Of those, Fujimori was the preferred candidate for 52.9% of voters, while left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo was the preferred option for 47.1%. Turnout was 77% of eligible voters.
“These results are the first official data from the polling stations that sit closest to the counting centers, that means urban votes. An important share of votes from rural areas and abroad is still waiting to be counted,” said Pedro Corvetto, head of ONPE.
Corvetto urged fellow Peruvians to wait for official results to come in from the provinces.
The results are in line with previous pre-vote polls that showed a stronger share of vote intentions among urban voters for Fujimori, daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. Meanwhile Castillo, a high school teacher who has never held public office, maintained a stronger appeal among rural voters.
At the last presidential elections in 2016, Fujimori lost to former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with 49.9% of the votes against 50.1% for Kuczynski.
Peruvian voters are heading to the polls at a time of extreme political instability. Interim President Francisco Sagasti became the country’s fourth president in less than five years after Congress voted to oust popular ex-president Martin Vizcarra and Vizcarra’s replacement, Manuel Merino, resigned.
Peruvians are most concerned about how the country will recover from the pandemic, which has exposed rampant inequality that persists despite significant increases in gross domestic product (GDP) and decreases in average poverty rates in recent decades. Both candidates have proposed reforms related to the key mining sector, but Fujimori is relying on government benefit packages to attract voters while Castillo has floated structural changes to the economy.
Fujimori has promised massive spending to compensate every Peruvian family that lost someone to Covid-19 with 10,000 soles ($2,600), plus 10 billion soles ($2.6 billion) in loans to small businesses to aid recovery. Her promises include delivering free water to communities not served by the main supply grids and granting 2 million land titles.
Meanwhile, Castillo has promised to cancel major mining projects in Conga and Tingo Maria, reform the pension system, decentralize public universities and create a ministry of science and technology to boost industrialization.
“We are going to recover the wealth with the re-negotiation of contracts with large companies, with mining companies that take the country’s wealth,” he said. “How is it possible that in such a rich country there is so much misery, so much inequality, and only the biggest profit, even if they don’t work.”