Pedro Castillo has little advantage over Keiko Fujimori after what one expert says is “one of the narrowest elections in the country.”
Peruvians are still waiting for their final results presidential elections in the country, as left-wing union leader Pedro Castillo maintains a very narrow lead over right-wing Keiko Fujimori days after the deeply polarized vote.
With 99.8 percent of the ballots counted on Wednesday afternoon, Castillo had a support of 50.19 percent compared to Fujimori’s 49.8 percent.
Sunday’s runoff occurred amid years of political instability in Peru, which is also struggling to cope with the rise COVID-19 infections and deaths and an economic recession related to the pandemic.
Castillo leads more than 67,000 of the 17.4 million valid votes counted, but with the votes still counted and the votes challenged by both parties, it could be days before the final official result is announced.
He the count has slowed down as the ballots are sent from abroad, as well as arriving in the capital, Lima, from the most remote rural areas of Peru, a stronghold of support for Castillo.
Fujimori, daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, has raised unproven allegations that Castillo supporters were trying to steal votes and his team has outlined plans to raise a legal challenge to the outcome.
Castillo’s party has strongly denied the allegations and election observers, including the ONPE’s electoral body and the Organization of American States, said the vote was conducted cleanly.
On Wednesday, Peru’s army also pledged in a statement to “respect the will of the people expressed at the polls,” as calls circulated on social media for the armed forces to prevent Castillo from taking power.
“In Peru, as in any democracy, election results must be respected,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s America division. he tweeted on Wednesday evening.
Vivanco said any allegation of fraud must be backed by “serious evidence,” while international human rights law requires that “every vote be counted and respected.”
Hundreds of voters on both sides have taken to the streets to protest their candidacy, mostly peacefully and sometimes with musicians and dancers.
Both candidates had previously agreed to respect the result of the vote.
Whoever wins will assume an economy hit by COVID-19 and the world the highest per capita coronavirus mortality rate. Two million Peruvians have lost their jobs during the pandemic and nearly a third now live in poverty, according to official data.
“Fujimori is unlikely to surpass Castillo at this time,” David Sulmont, a sociology professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and former head of its electoral unit, told Reuters news agency.
“It’s one of the narrowest elections in the country,” he added. “The margin may vary, but I think Castillo will be the winner.”
Castillo said Wednesday that party observers considered his victory an agreement made.
“On behalf of the Peruvian people,” he thanked the “embassies and governments of Latin America and other countries” for congratulatory messages on their “victory.”
No government has officially acknowledged a victory for Castillo, although former Bolivian President Evo Morales sent a message of “congratulations on this victory.”