Fujimori in Tight Race for Peru’s Presidency

Fujimori in Tight Race for Peru’s PresidencyFujimori in Tight Race for Peru’s Presidency

Keiko Fujimori aims to steer the rightwing populist movement she inherited from her disgraced father back into power in a runoff election for Peru’s presidency on Sunday, but the latest polls suggest she could suffer another narrow loss.

Her lead over rival Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 77, has melted away in recent days, evoking memories of her close defeat to outgoing President Ollanta Humala in 2011, Reuters reported.

The 41-year-old Fujimori has spent the last five years doubling down on efforts 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. But with new allies mired in fresh scandals, some supporters are having second thoughts.

A senior aide to Fujimori stepped down last month after media reports linked him to money laundering and drug trafficking. Local journalists later accused her running mate of feeding them a tampered audio recording to discredit a source at the center of the reports, reminding many Peruvians of the days when her father’s government bribed tabloids to sway public opinion in his favor.

“I just can’t believe her anymore with everything that’s been in the news lately,” said Gloria Diaz, a 24-year-old stylist who voted for Fujimori in the first-round election.

While both candidates are fiscal conservatives who would maintain the free-market model for 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.

A former investment banker, Kuczynski endorsed Fujimori in 2011 before becoming the unlikely leader of the country’s anti-Fujimori movement when he scraped together a second-place win in April’s first-round election.

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.