Peruvians were awaiting the result of the first round of the presidential election on Monday, which promises to be tight, after a poll that took place without incident, but in the midst of the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to partial results unveiled Monday morning by the National Electoral Office, covering 38% of the vote, Pedro Castillo (radical left) leads with 15.9% of the vote, ahead of the liberal economist Hernando de Soto (14%) .
Then come the businessman Rafael Lopez Aliaga (far right) then Keiko Fujimori (populist right), the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), candidate for the third time.
These tight results could change over the course of the official vote count.
“Never the percentages [obtenus par les deux candidats en tête] have not been so low, ”said analyst Fernando Tuesta, on the Canal N.
An Ipsos exit poll had already put Pedro Castillo in the lead with some 16.1% of the vote, followed tied (11.9%) by Keiko Fujimori and Hernando de Soto.
“The Peruvian people have just opened their eyes,” said Pedro Castillo, a 51-year-old teacher and trade unionist, from his hometown of Cajamarca (north).
“It is clear that the margin is narrow,” admitted Mr. de Soto, 79, an economist of international stature.
In total, 18 candidates were vying for this presidential election, where no favorite had emerged during the campaign. The second round, in which the two candidates with the most votes on Sunday will participate, will take place on June 6.
“I did not want to vote because there is no ideal candidate, but I am afraid that radicals will enter the government,” Johnny Samaniego, 51, told AFP after voting at the National Stadium from Lima.
The uncertain ballot came as the country experienced its deadliest week in a 13-month pandemic, with a record 384 deaths on Saturday, double the average for the past 10 weeks.
Voting is compulsory in Peru under penalty of a fine. Many Peruvians reluctantly went to the polls, worried about the alarming figures of the pandemic, which has already claimed more than 54,000 lives for 33 million inhabitants.
“We are afraid of being infected, because this pandemic is terrible, but I still have to vote,” Nancy Retamozo, 58, in the poor neighborhood of Pamplona, Lima, told AFP.
The polling stations remained open four more hours to avoid crowds.
In addition to their president, the 25 million voters were called to elect the 130 deputies of Parliament, at the origin of many institutional crises in recent years.
The last, in November 2020, resulted in Peru having three presidents in one week.
Dismissed by the Parliament for “moral incapacity”, on a background of accusation of alleged bribes, the popular head of state Martin Vizcarra was replaced by the opponent Manuel Merino, the president of the Parliament.
Five days later, forced to resign under pressure from the streets, the latter was replaced by moderate deputy Francisco Sagasti.
On Sunday, in addition to the lines of voters, those of Peruvians trying to obtain oxygen cylinders for COVID-19 patients were visible in Lima.
“Finding oxygen is the main thing,” Mario Tinoco, 52, told AFP, who said he preferred to pay the fine of 88 soles ($ 24) provided for by law.
Former President Vizcarra had proposed in January to postpone the elections to May 23, but his proposal received no support. During the campaign, six presidential candidates contracted COVID-19.
The pandemic has hit Peru hard, whose health system suffers from underinvestment. The oxygen shortage forces people to wait hours, if not days, in an attempt to save their loved ones.
After growing for a long time above the Latin American average, the Peruvian economy contracted by 11.12% in 2020, the worst figure in three decades.
Four million Peruvians have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and five million have become poor. A third of the inhabitants live in poverty.