STORY: Peruvians voted on Sunday in a tight run-off for the presidency, choosing between right-wing Populist Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a jailed former president, and former World Bank Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
Fujimori’s lead over Kuczynski, 77, melted away in recent days, evoking memories of her close defeat to outgoing President Ollanta Humala in 2011.
In opinion polls by Ipsos and GfK taken on Saturday, Kuczynski pulled slightly ahead of Fujimori though the two remained in a statistical dead-heat.
The 41-year-old Fujimori has spent the last five years seeking to broaden her appeal beyond loyalists to her father, Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for graft and human rights abuses.
She kicked his staunchest defenders off her party’s congressional ticket and has stepped up the movement’s presence in provinces she lost to left-leaning Humala in 2011. Still, many voters remain wary with some of Fujimori’s new associates mired in fresh scandals.
While both candidates are fiscal conservatives who would maintain a free-market model in the resource-rich Andean economy, their styles and approaches differ wildly.
The election pits the Fujimori family’s brand of conservative populism against Kuczynski’s elite background and stiff technocratic style that has curbed his appeal in poor provinces and working-class districts.
Fujimori, who has repeatedly said democracy is not at risk, has waged a more energetic campaign than her rival, whirling out regional dances in far-flung villages where she has promised to deliver tractors and portrayed her rival as out-of-touch with struggling Peruvians.
Many in rural provinces have fond memories of her father, who built schools and hospitals and is credited with ending the violent Shining Path insurgency.
The younger Fujimori has responded to the top voter concern, crime, with a hard-line stance that includes support for the death penalty and promises to lock up the most dangerous criminals in five new prisons she would have built high in the Andes.
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