Socialist Castillo maintains solid lead in Peru election as count draws to a close
Peruvian socialist candidate Pedro Castillo kept a narrow lead on Tuesday night in the country’s second round of presidential elections, as tensions mounted over contested ballots and accusations of fraud, which sparked protests outside the office elections.
Castillo, who has worried markets and mining companies with his plans to shake up the politics of the copper-rich country, held a slim lead of around 50.3%, ahead of right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori with 49.7%, with almost 98% of the vote. account.
This represents an advance of 88,000 votes.
A preliminary tally is expected to end on Wednesday, although around 300,000 votes have been contested and will need to be considered by an election jury, which will take days to resolve.
It is not clear whether these contested votes will be enough to tip the election in favor of Fujimori, especially after Castillo modestly broadened his lead during the day from 70,000 votes.
On Monday, Fujimori made unfounded fraud charges, adding fuel to an already tense situation, and posted a hashtag for Twitter users to submit cases of what she called “irregularities.”
Election experts, including international observers, told Reuters that no fraud had been observed, but that did not stop people from staging protests.
“We are protesting because of the flagrant electoral theft. The (election office) is playing in favor of Mr. Castillo, they are trying to commit fraud in his favor,” Fernando Tavera, a pro-Fujimori protester, said outside the election office. .
Castillo supporters have also flocked to the elections office to express their support in the counter-protests. Both rounds of protests were peaceful.
Lourdes Morales, who backs Castillo, said: “We think it is a scandal of how (Fujimori) has increased his number of votes,” referring to how the Tory has slowly closed the gap on Castillo most of the day. “And that creates uncertainty,” she said.
Lima is where Fujimori has the most support. Castillo, the peasant son, had surged towards the end of the count as more rural voices arrived, leading by more than 100,000 votes at one point. However, driven by international votes, Fujimori started to gain ground again.
Fujimori, a descendant of a powerful political family, said she was still hopeful of closing the narrow gap with Castillo on Monday night.
Peruvian markets faltered for a second day, after plunging strongly on Monday in anticipation of Castillo’s victory. The Peruvian stock market fell 0.74%, although the local currency, the sol, strengthened 0.33%.
The drama has left Peruvians glued to the media as they watch the countdown. But the end result could still be in a few days, and disputed ballots could be the key.
There are some 1,385 contested âactasâ or voting tables, which probably equates to some 300,000 votes. They should be counted by a special commission set up by the electoral council, which could take at least a week.
If Castillo wins, investors will be looking to see if he seeks to calm the country down after the dividing election, and what his first messages are on the direction of economic policy and investment prospects, Goldman Sachs said.
Castillo has promised to reformulate the constitution to strengthen the role of the state and take more of the profits from mining companies. Fujimori is committed to following a free market model and maintaining economic stability in Peru.
Azhar Hussain, head of global credit at Royal London Asset Management, said market fears over Castillo were potentially overblown.
“The reaction (of the market) to Peru is quite low-key,” he said. âFor starters, we may have found ourselves trapped in the narrative that this was a binary choiceâ¦ Maybe from a political standpoint, but from a real economic standpoint, it doesn’t. does not appear to be the case. “
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