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World Peruvians face choice for 'lesser evil' in presidential vote

06:25  04 june  2021
06:25  04 june  2021 Source:   afp.com

'People have awakened': Peru's Castillo closes in on election win

  'People have awakened': Peru's Castillo closes in on election win 'People have awakened': Peru's Castillo closes in on election winLIMA (Reuters) -Socialist Pedro Castillo was closing in on victory in Peru's presidential election on Thursday, holding a slim lead of some 63,000 votes over conservative rival Keiko Fujimori, who has yet to concede and has alleged fraud despite scant evidence.

Peruvians will be faced with choosing the "lesser evil" between rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori and radical leftwing unionist Pedro Castillo when voting for their new president on Sunday.

Peru's presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori (left) and Pedro Castillo represent polar opposite economic models but share similar views on gay rights issues © SEBASTIAN CASTANEDA Peru's presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori (left) and Pedro Castillo represent polar opposite economic models but share similar views on gay rights issues

Scandal-tainted Fujimori, 46, has reached the second-round runoff for the third election in a row, and is running level with schoolteacher Castillo in the most recent opinion polls.

However, 18 percent of voters remain undecided between the two polar opposite candidates.

Peruvians head to polls to elect president, divided by class and geography

  Peruvians head to polls to elect president, divided by class and geography Peruvians head to polls to elect president, divided by class and geographyLIMA/TACABAMBA, Peru (Reuters) - Peruvians will pick a president on Sunday in an election that has bitterly divided them by class and geography, with urban and higher-income citizens preferring right-wing Keiko Fujimori while the rural poor support leftist political novice Pedro Castillo.

"For the majority of the population it's more about the election of the lesser evil," Peruvian political scientist Jessica Smith told AFP, adding that the vote pits "anti-Fujimorism" against "anti-communism."

Keiko Fujimori et al. standing on the floor: Peru's presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori (left) and Pedro Castillo took part in a debate on May 30, 2021 © Martin Mejia Peru's presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori (left) and Pedro Castillo took part in a debate on May 30, 2021

It's a choice between Fujimori's neoliberalism and Castillo's socialism; between the status quo and change.

Fujimori draws her support from the capital Lima while Castillo is a bulwark of the rural deep interior.

Battle lines were drawn between the two camps last Sunday, with Fujimori accusing Castillo of stoking violence in the electoral campaign, and the leftist firing back that corruption "is synonymous with Fujimorism" in Peru.

Leftist teacher inches toward victory in disputed Peru vote

  Leftist teacher inches toward victory in disputed Peru vote LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru finished tallying votes in the country’s tight presidential contest Thursday but no winner was declared, with electoral authorities saying they were scrutinizing a small number of ballots amid unproven claims of possible vote tampering leveled by the apparent loser. With votes from rural areas and Peruvian embassies abroad now fully in, leftist Pedro Castillo maintained his narrow lead, with 50.2% of the votes against 49.8% for conservative Keiko Fujimori. The difference between the candidates was 70,774 votes.

Castillo's opponents have tried to link him to the political arm of the Maoist Shining Path rebels defeated by Fujimori's father Alberto when he was president from 1990-2000, but the unionist says he was actually part of the "peasant patrols" that resisted the communist guerrillas.

The campaign was rocked last month by the massacre of 16 people in Peru's coca leaf heartland by alleged remnants of the Shining Path.

"We don't want the country to be in the hands of a communist," businesswoman Cecilia Yep, 52, told AFP.

Fujimori, 46, says a victory for Castillo would send Peru down the same route as North Korea or Venezuela.

Castillo, 51, denies he's a communist, but his policy platform looks radical to some.

- Tax on over-profits -

He has vowed to nationalize the mining, hydrocarbon and telecommunications industries and impose tax and royalty reforms he describes as "very necessary" to address wealth inequality.

Peru leftist Castillo inches nearer win in sharply divided election

  Peru leftist Castillo inches nearer win in sharply divided election Peru leftist Castillo inches nearer win in sharply divided electionLIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian socialist Pedro Castillo was holding on to a razor-thin lead in the deeply divided country's presidential election on Wednesday with almost all votes processed, though with a gap of just 70,000, contested ballots could still be decisive.

Peru is a major producer of copper, gold, silver, lead and zinc, and mining accounts for 10 percent of the country's GDP, as well as a fifth of the corporate taxes.


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With copper prices hitting record highs of over $10,000 a ton last month, Castillo wants more of those profits to benefit the state rather than private enterprises.

He's proposing "a new tax on over-profits, the elimination of tax exemptions and royalties based on sales."

However, Castillo insists he is not looking to eliminate private enterprise or foreign investments.

"The State will strengthen its regulatory role within a mixed economy approach," said Castillo, adding that "monopolies and oligarchies will be more actively regulated."

Fujimori, on the other hand, has reiterated her "firm belief in private activity as the engine of the Peruvian economy and a great generator of jobs."

She has promised a raft of tax cuts to help reactivate an economy badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic and has pledged to create three million jobs and raise the minimum wage and lowest pensions.

Charges, communism, COVID-19 and a controversial name in Peruvian politics define an election

  Charges, communism, COVID-19 and a controversial name in Peruvian politics define an election Sunday's presidential election in Peru comes as many citizens are losing hope for their economy and their democracy. Six of the last seven presidents have either been forced from office amid allegations of wrongdoing or have faced charges upon completing their terms. The country went through three presidents in a week last November amid fierce street demonstrations against the dysfunctional political class.

But given her plans would, like Castillo's, require an increase in public spending, many economists have branded her policies as "populist."

- 'Flawed' constitution -

One of Castillo's main vows is to replace the constitution approved in 1993 under his opponent's father, Alberto Fujimori.

The current constitution is "flawed, the fruit of a coup d'etat, and which prioritizes private interests over public interests," said Castillo.

Fujimori, though, has defended the document and claims that it "saved the country from poverty and the chaos generated by the rentier state model."

Alberto Fujimori is serving a 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity and corruption.

Keiko Fujimori continues to protest his innocence and has said she would pardon him if elected.

She herself has also been charged with corruption and even spent 16-months in pre-trial detention.

"Keiko is the worst enemy of democracy, because she defends a past of abusive authoritarianism," anthropologist Bernardo Caceres, 59, told AFP.

There are, however, some social similarities between the two candidates. They're both anti-abortion, defend traditional family values and have opposed gay rights.

- Worst mortality rate -

Whoever wins the election will face the fallout of the pandemic, which has infected 1.9 million Peruvians and killed 180,000.

A recent recalculation of the dead gave Peru the worst mortality rate in the world.

Two million Peruvians have lost their jobs and three million fell into poverty during the pandemic, leaving a third of the country's 33 million living in poverty, according to official figures.

More than 25 million people are registered to vote in the contest, which is obligatory.

The first results are expected at 11:00 pm on Sunday (0400 GMT Monday).

fj/pb/ltl/bc/caw

Peru's Presidential Candidates Separated by Less Than 1% with 94% of Ballots Counted .
Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo had 50.07 percent of the vote, while conservative Keiko Fujimori had 49.92 percent. The two candidates traded the lead on Monday during the runoff election.Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo had 50.07 percent of the vote, while conservative Keiko Fujimori had 49.92 percent. The two candidates traded the lead on Monday during the runoff election, the Associated Press reported.

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