Preliminary results from yesterday’s first-round presidential elections in Peru suggest that no candidate has received an outright majority of the vote, but that Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori will advance to a runoff scheduled for June 5. At the time of writing, 76.5 percent of ballots have been counted according to Peru’s National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE). In this tally, Ollanta Humala (Gana Perú nominee and former 2006 presidential candidate) received over 29.8 percent of the vote; Keiko Fujimori (Fuerza 2011 nominee and daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori) garnered 23.0 percent; and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Alianza por el Gran Cambio nominee and former economy minister) won 20.5 percent.
Peruvian online newspapers such as El Comercio and Peru21 awarded first place in yesterday’s election to Humala, while Keiko proclaimed last night in a victory speech that she will advance to the second round. Kuczynski appeared resigned to this reality as well, calling a Humala-Fujimori runoff “almost evident.” Peruvian President Alan García congratulated Humala and Fujimori this morning.
Humala’s advance to the second round was widely predicted based on polling data by Lima-based Ipsos Apoyo, which showed him with 26 percent support of likely voters as recently as April 5. Peru’s electoral laws prohibit official polling in the week before an election takes place.
In an agonizingly tight race featuring months of theatrics from an unprecedented five presidential candidates, the climax in the weeks ahead of Sunday’s vote in Peru has been the dramatic and unforeseen rise of nationalist Ollanta Humala.
Nervous investors in Lima, who thought they had seen the last of Humala when he narrowly lost the 2006 election, joke—half way—about leaving the country. Die-hard Humala supporters speak passionately about the potential for a new economic model in the resource-rich Andean nation. Despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Peru is stuck with a high 35 percent poverty rate.
But as Peruvian sociologist Julio Cotler points out, Peru is not Venezuela and Humala would likely fall short of delivering the dramatic change as president that many, for better or worse, expect of him—if he manages to eke out a second-round victory in the June runoff.
Humala 2.0, a churchgoing family man who wears suits and ties, downplays his military past and has virtually disowned his radical brother, who is in jail for leading a failed uprising. He does not utter the name “Hugo Chávez,” though Venezuela’s president loomed large during his 2006 campaign, and he pledges to respect Peru’s free-trade agreements (FTAs) and the central bank’s independence.
The whole transformation is eerily reminiscent of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former radical who arguably became Brazil’s most popular president ever.