Former World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski held on to a tiny lead as returns from the presidential runoff in Peru came in Monday, Reuters reported. Kuczynski faced Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori in Sunday's election after no candidate won a majority in first-round voting in April.
With 91 percent of the votes counted, Kuczynski had 50.32 percent to Fujimori's 49.68 percent. Votes from Peruvians abroad, as well as ballots cast in some rural districts, were yet to be counted, according to Reuters. While Fujimori was at first favored to win, Kuczynski edged ahead Sunday night, celebrating with supporters. Both candidates are fiscal, free-market conservatives.
"We want a democratic country, a country committed to dialogue!" Kuczynski said Sunday in a speech celebrating the preliminary results.
The race has been a bitter one, with much of the debate centering on Fujimori's father Alberto Fujimori, the former president and dictator who is currently serving 25 years in prison for corruption and crimes against humanity. Alberto Fujimori, who was elected in 1990 but seized full power until being ousted in 2000, reportedly used death squads to crack down on dissent and to quash the Maoist rebel group Shining Path. But supporters point to his record of bringing hospitals and schools to rural areas while overseeing a period of economic rejuvenation.
"I'm the candidate, not my father," U.S.-educated Keiko Fujimori has repeatedly said. The congresswoman also signed a pledge saying that she would not pardon her father if elected.
Despite Fujimori’s efforts to distance herself from her father, many Peruvians protested her candidacy. With signs reading “Fujimori never again,” thousands of people have gathered in public squares to demonstrate against her run.
Kuczynski, 77, promises to use his financial background to grow Peru's economy. Kuczynski, whose Jewish father fled Berlin after Adolf Hitler rose to power, studied politics, philosophy and economy at Oxford University in the United Kingdom and worked for the World Bank and Peru's Central Bank before entering politics.
"We're going to have a government built on consensus. No more low blows or fights," he said Sunday.
If he becomes president, Kuczynski may face a difficult relationship with Peru’s new 130-member single-chamber Congress, where Fujimori’s Popular Force holds an absolute majority. His Peruvians for Change party has only 18 representatives.