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10/04/2011 | Peru - Election 2011: Leftist takes the lead in Peru's presidential elections

Reuters Staff

Peru’s left-wing nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala won the first round of presidential elections Sunday, and looked set to face off against conservative lawmaker Keiko Fujimori, who narrowly came in second place, exit polls showed.

 

Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala won the first round of Peru's presidential election on Sunday and looked set to face rightist lawmaker Keiko Fujimori in a June 5 run-off, three exit polls showed. 

However, Fujimori's lead over the third-placed candidate --former finance minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski -- was narrow, meaning he could still have a chance of contesting the run-off, the polls showed. 

In the run-up to Sunday's election, Humala had a lead over his three leading rivals, who are favored by big business in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Despite a decade-long boom, a third of Peruvians live in poverty and low-income voters were expected to hand Sunday's victory to Humala, a former army officer who has softened his tone since narrowly losing the 2006 race. A Datum exit poll gave Humala 33.8 percent of the vote, followed by Fujimori with 21.3 percent. Former prime minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had 19.5 percent and former President Alejandro Toledo, 15.2 percent. 

The results were similar in an Ipsos exit poll that showed Humala with 31.6 percent, Fujimori with 21.4 percent, Kuczynski on 19.2 percent and Toledo, 16.1 percent.

A CPI poll gave a similar reading. Humala, a former army officer, has moderated his tone since narrowly losing the 2006 race. Humala's rivals have sought to hurt his chances by saying he would step up state control over the economy, rolling back reforms and jeopardizing some $40 billion of foreign investment lined up for the next decade in mining and energy exploration. 

But Humala has surged in the race by shedding his hardline image and recasting himself as a soft-left leader in the vein of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

Humala has promised "gradual" change to ensure the country's decade-long boom reaches the one third of Peruvians who have been left behind in poverty. He has taken to wearing ties, carrying rosary beads to show he is a devout Roman Catholic and promising to be fiscally prudent while respecting the independence of the central bank and honoring the country's many free-trade pacts. 

Those tactics have persuaded some on Wall Street and in Peru's vast mining sector that he has matured and is no longer like his brother and father, two well-known Peruvian radicals. 

Some political analysts see him as South America's next Lula, unlike more strident leftists like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, from whom Humala has sought to distance himself.

France24 (Francia)

 


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