Monday, June 6, 2011

Peru election: Early results suggest Humala victory

First results in Peru's presidential election run-off suggest leftist Ollanta Humala has a narrow lead over right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori. 

Peruvian presidential candidates, (from left) Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori
On the left and right of the political spectrum -
presidential hopefuls Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori
The polls indicated a lead of about 2% for Mr Humala, a one-time ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Ms Fujimori is the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

The two candidates are at opposite ends of the political spectrum - a fact that worried some Peruvians who said they would not vote for either of them.

Preliminary results from three separate polling companies indicated Mr Humala had won around 51% of the vote, with Ms Fujimori trailing at around 49%.

Mr Humala and Ms Fujimori led the field after the first round on 10 April, which saw the defeat of three centrist candidates.

No candidate gained more than the 50% needed to win the election outright.

Reluctant voters
If Mr Humala is confirmed as the winner, he will succeed Alan Garcia, who could not stand for a second term.

Ollanta Humala, 48, comes from a left-wing tradition of greater state intervention. He staged a short-lived rebellion against Alberto Fujimori in 2000 and narrowly lost to Mr Garcia in the last presidential election in 2006.

He campaigned on a promise to increase the state's role in the economy and redistribute wealth to Peru's poor majority.

His critics fear he will embark on interventionist policies similar to those of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, although Mr Humala says he is more in sympathy with Brazil's moderate left-wing approach.

He has also denied allegations that he committed human rights abuses during the fight against Shining Path rebels in the 1990s when he was an army captain.

Keiko Fujimori, 36, appeals to Peruvians who still admire her father, president for a decade from 1990. He is now serving a 25-year jail sentence for corruption and organising death squads.

She has defended his record, saying by taming hyper-inflation and defeating Marxist Shining Path rebels, he laid the basis for Peru's current economic boom.

She supports free-market economic policies, advocates a tough approach to crime and has promised to improve social programmes and infrastructure in poor areas. 

Critics say her main aim is to secure a pardon for her father, a claim she denies.

If the final result differs from the preliminary polls and she wins the election, she would become Peru's first woman president.

Voting is compulsory in Peru but surveys before the election suggested that around 10% of voters could abstain or spoil their ballots, Reuters news agency said.

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