Peru's presidential candidates remain virtually neck and neck as the runoff vote count enters its fourth day, with ex-cabinet chief and banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski clinging on to a razor-thin lead over his rival, former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori.

And his chances of eventually losing to Fujimori are getting slimmer.

Kuczynski, known by his initials PPK, had 50.12% of the vote compared to 49.88% for Fujimori, with about 99.5% of votes scrutinized, according to Peru's electoral board Onpe. The final tally of the June 5 vote may not be completed until the weekend as the last delivery of votes cast abroad was not expected until Wednesday night, it said.

While Fujimori's Fuerza Popular party had been counting on the rural vote and backing from Peruvians living in the US and Europe, polling firm IpsosApoyo, which had declared Kuczynski the victor June 5, said Fujimori can no longer hope to overturn the results with so few votes left to review.

"I believe we can say that PPK's triumph is definitive," IpsosApoyo director Alfredo Torres told reporters in Lima. "Keiko would have to obtain over 70% of the votes in nearly all the ballots that are left to process, which would be materially impossible."

While both candidates, who have challenged 1.5% of the ballots cast, have said they will await a 100% official vote count before proclaiming or conceding victory, Kuczynski's Peruanos por el Kambio movement has quietly begun making plans for succession, which is scheduled for July 28.

The party's own electoral observers, known as personeros, have confirmed Kuczynski's victory after checking 100% of votes cast, his spokesman Gilbert Violeta told reporters in Lima. Impatient supporters from both parties, meanwhile, are staging vigils outside Onpe's offices.

"We're putting together our teams for the equivalent number of ministries and reviewing all the material we need to request," said Mercedes Aráoz, one of Kuczynski's two running mates. "There's a law that sets procedures, so that's what we're doing."

Several members of Kuczynski's campaign team are widely expected to form part of his ministerial cabinet, including Aráoz, a former foreign trade minister and Inter-American Development Bank representative; ex- JPMorgan investment banker and World Bank economist Alfredo Thorne; former interior minister Gino Costa; and Fiorella Molinelli, who previously worked at energy regulator Osinergmin.


Fujimori, 41, who is bidding to emulate her father, three-time former president Alberto Fujimori, will still have a chance at a third shot at the presidency if she falls short this time, according to analysts. Ms Fujimori lost narrowly to Ollanta Humala in the 2011 elections.

Ms Fujimori, whose attempt to form a political dynasty is reminiscent of the Kirchner-Fernández marriage in Argentina, the Duvalier and Castro dynasties in Haiti and Cuba, respectively, and the Bush family and Clinton marriage in the US, will wield considerable power over the next five years as her party won 73 seats in Peru's 130-member congress.

Peru, the world's third largest copper, zinc and tin producer and a major producer natural gas, fishmeal and coffee, is struggling to jump-start its economy in the face of slumping commodities prices.

"Keiko has not exhausted her possibilities of another candidacy," said political analyst Juan Paredes. "Fuerza Popular will have to build a future with that congressional majority, and one can't do that by being a destructive opposition."

Ms Fujimori, who like Kuczynski is viewed as investor-friendly, has succeeded in distancing herself from the human rights abuses and corruption that resulted in a 25-year prison sentence for her father, her spokesman Pedro Spadaro said. She has also been careful to weed out many of the politicians associated with her father's government.

"The renewal of Fujimorism isn't just a question of names. It's real and concrete," Spadaro was reported as saying by Lima-based newspaper El Comercio. "We relate more to the present and the future. She's going to be the best president Peru will ever have. She's going to outdo her father."


Source: BNamericas