(above) Peruvian presidential candidate and former mayor of Lima, Luis Castaneda of the National Solidarity party embraces a supporter during a campaign rally in Lima, Peru, Saturday March 26, 2011. The latest Ipsos-Apoyo poll shows Peru's presidential race tightening a few weeks ahead of voting. Peru will hold general elections on April 10. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held in June. Photo: AP.
Leftist Former Soldier Rises In Peru Election Poll
by The Associated Press
LIMA, Peru March 27, 2011, 10:35 pm ET
Ollanta Humala, who lost the 2006 election to President Alan Garcia, was favored by 21.2 percent of those polled across the country on March 21-24. That was up from 15.7 percent a week before in the CPI poll sponsored by RPP radio.
Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced and imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, was backed by 19.9 percent while Alejandro Toledo, Peru's president from 2001-2006, was favored by 18.6 percent. Both are roughly even with Humala because the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
Humala, who is popular in Peru's poor, rural heartland, favors a stronger state role in the economy and was once close to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, though he has distanced himself recently from Chavez, who is unpopular in Peru.
He advocates renegotiating free trade agreements and has spooked investors by calling for taxing "windfall profits" in the mining sector, which accounts for the bulk of Peru's exports.
(right) Peruvian presidential candidate and former mayor of Lima, Luis Castaneda of the National Solidarity party, looks out at his supporters during a campaign rally in Lima, Peru, Saturday March 26, 2011. The latest Ipsos-Apoyo poll shows Peru's presidential race tightening a few weeks ahead of voting. Peru will hold general elections on April 10. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held in June. Photo: AP.
Noting Humala's surge in the polls, Peru's leading newspaper, El Comercio, last week painted him a socialist who would "try to nationalize companies" and impose the very model that led to the collapse of eastern European economies under Soviet rule.
The director of the CPI polling company, Manuel Torrado, told RPP that while Humala's rise may spread fear among the wealthy, the one-third of Peruvians who are poor have no "fear of change. It doesn't hurt them because they have nothing."
Toledo, an economist and Peru's first president of largely Indian ancestry, has slipped back into the pack after leading with about 30 percent in early February.
The poll shows a race so tight that the candidate who could beat any other in a likely runoff, former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda, is running fifth in the pack and could be eliminated in the first round of voting.
(below) Peru's presidential candidate Ollanta Humala of the political party Peru Wins, center, is carried by supporters at a campaign rally in Trujillo, Peru, Wednesday March 23, 2011. The former army colonel, who lost a 2006 runoff to Alan Garcia, climbed to third in the field of 11 candidates with 17 percent, according to the latest Ipsos-Apoyo poll. Peru will hold general elections on April 10. Photo: AP.
Castaneda, who led opinion polls for all of 2010, was the first choice of just 15.5 percent of those polled.
But in a head-to-head competition, he topped Humala 52-37, led Fujimori 49-33 and was ahead of Toledo 50-34.
While Humala has risen quickly, he still trails Toledo and Fujimori in a runoff scenario.
Also in contention is former Economy and Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was backed by 16.1 percent of the 4,688 people polled in person across the country.