With Fujimori polarizing Peru vote, eyes on runner-up race

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 7:40 AM

Polls for months have shown Fujimori with a double-digit lead over her nearest rival among ten presidential candidates, but not getting the fifty % support needed to win outright and avert a June five runoff between the two top vote-getters.

With Fujimori polarizing Peru vote, eyes on runner-up race

With the daughter of Peru'south jailed former strongman the runaway favorite to obtain the most votes in Sunday'south election, all eyes are on the race for second space and the right to face Keiko Fujimori in an expected presidential runoff.

Polls for months have shown Fujimori with a double-digit lead over her nearest rival among ten presidential candidates, but not getting the fifty % support needed to win outright and avert a June five runoff between the two top vote-getters.

In a deceased heat for second are former Wall Str investor Pedro Kuczynski and leftist congresswoman Veronika Mendoza.

Analysts declare that whichever of the two emerges might've a shot in a second circular of balloting because of how polarizing a figure Fujimori is among Peruvians, who either adore her father for defeating Maoist-inspired rebels and taming hyperinflation or abhor him for human rights abuses and ordering tanks to close down Congress in 1992.

Nearly half of Peruvians declare they'll never vote for anyone associated with former President Alberto Fujimori, who governed from one thousand nine hundred ninety to two thousand, and is serving a 25-year sentence for authorizing death squads and corruption. Voting is mandatory in Peru.

In a tender to project a more moderate image, the center-right Keiko Fujimori has sworn not to pardon her father if elected. But opponents have taken to the streets by the thousands to condemn what they said will be a return of authoritarian regulation if she is elected.

Adding even more bitterness to the election, two candidates including Fujimori'south strongest rival were barred from the race by Peru'south electoral tribunal for campaign violations or technicalities, decisions questioned by the Organization of American States.

Polls released in the past week indicate the race for second space tightening, with some for the first time giving an ascendant Mendoza the edge.

Of the two main challengers, Mendoza represents the biggest shift from the status quo below President Ollanta Humala, who's prevented by the constitution from seeking a second, consecutive term. An admirer of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mendoza fell out with Humala'south government over its crackdown on anti-mining protesters.

While corruption scandals and economic stress sparked by the finish of the commodities boom has pushed much of S America to the right, as evidenced by the beat of leftist candidates in Argentina and Venezuela, polls indicate that more than half of Peruvians are clamoring for more state intervention in the economy — just the sort of proposal that Mendoza favors.

If elected, she'south vowed to radically modify the pro-business economic model that propelled record growth over the past decade by ramping up spending and reducing Peru'south dependence on extraction of natural resources that she says degrade the environment. Peru is among the world'south top three silver producers.

Amid the polarization, Kuczynski has tried to position himself as the candidate of the middle who says he'll avert the dangers of the two "extremes." But the 77-year-old investor favorite has been dogged by his service to past governments and Peruvians' preference for outsider candidates. Three of Peru'south latest four presidents had never running for any office before being elected.

Further undermining Peruvians' faith in their democracy was the last-minute decision by electoral authorities to expel two candidates from the race. Both were kicked out on technical grounds but the timing of the decision, a mo before voting, has fueled speculation Keiko Fujimori or another candidate may have been pulling the strings.

The OAS urged the candidates' reinstatement to avert a "semi-democratic election."

Also up for grabs on Sun are all one hundred thirty seats in Peru's congress.

---

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Bogota, Colombia contributed to this report.

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