Nationalist Candidate Appears to Be Leading in Peru's Presidential Vote


CARACAS, Venezuela — Peruvian voters cast ballots on Sunday in a presidential election notable for the surging candidacy of Ollanta Humala, a nationalist who is critical of the expanding influence of foreign companies in Peru's booming economy.

But based on preliminary projections Sunday night, with about 43 percent of the votes counted, a runoff looked likely. Despite Mr. Humala's sudden climb in the polls in recent weeks, none of the candidates appeared to have the majority necessary to win.

Mr. Humala, who lost a runoff in 2006 against the current president, Alan García, appeared to be leading, with 27 percent of the partial count. But vying for second place, and the chance to run against Mr. Humala in the next round, was Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a prominent economist, with 23.6 percent, and Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, with 21.8 percent.

Trailing them were Alejandro Toledo, a former president, and Luis Castañeda, a former mayor of Lima, the capital.

Preliminary projections had earlier suggested a close race for second between Mr. Kuczynski and Ms. Fujimori. It was not immediately clear whether the partial results included ballots from rural areas where Mr. Humala and Ms. Fujimori are expected to fare better than other candidates.

A runoff would be held in June.
The rise of Mr. Humala, 48, a former military officer who has played down comparisons with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and Ms. Fujimori, 35, who has defended her disgraced father, points to broad discontent with policies that have failed to lift millions out of poverty even as Peru boasts economic growth that is the envy of its neighbors.

"Ollanta will bring the change we need because there's so much corruption and too much conformism," said Ariel Chunga, 60, a barber who voted Sunday in Lima. "What can I be scared of? We have to make decisions even if they are scary. You can be nervous of getting married, but you still do it."

The results also suggest that symbols of Peru's economic growth that are most evident to its urban moneyed class, like the construction boom that is reshaping Lima's skyline, mean little to the impoverished residents of the mountainous hinterland.

"Castañeda is the great disappointment," said Aldo Panfichi, a political scientist at Catholic University in Lima, referring to the city's former mayor. "The public works of Lima are not visible in the rest of the country; they mean nothing to indigenous groups. Lima is not Peru."

Mr. Humala's strong showing had many in Peru questioning whether he would emulate Mr. Chávez, the Venezuelan president, whom he openly admired in his failed 2006 bid for the presidency, or Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the moderate former Brazilian president, from whom he drew inspiration for his campaign this year.

Some voters said that Mr. Kuczynski, a former finance minister and World Bank official, offered an opportunity to extend Peru's economic performance. "Kuczynski is a first-level professional," said Aldo Farro, 46, a pharmaceutical salesman. "We are advancing in Peru, and we need people who will further that."

Others opted for Ms. Fujimori largely out of admiration for her father, who is imprisoned on human rights and corruption charges.

Many Peruvians have fond memories of his 10-year presidency, when Mr. Fujimori, who is 72, was called "El Chino," a reference to his Asian ancestry.

Ms. Fujimori has said she would pardon her father, who made strides against the Maoist insurgents of the Shining Path in the 1990s.

Simon Romero reported from Caracas, Venezuela, and Andrea Zarate from Lima, Peru.