“Peruvian socialist Pedro Castillo held a wafer-thin lead in a polarized presidential election on Wednesday, with a battle brewing over the result that could spark weeks of political wrangling, market volatility and deeper divisions. Castillo, the son of illiterate farmers who has rattled the Andean nation’s political elite and garnered huge support from the rural poor, had 50.2% with 99.8% of votes processed, just a 0.4 percentage point ahead of right-wing Keiko Fujimori.”
“Fujimori, the heir of a powerful political family, has however, raised unsubstantiated allegations that supporters of Castillo tried to steal votes, which the leftist’s party has strongly denied. International electoral observers and experts have said the vote was carried out cleanly. ‘Today we are presenting all the evidence of irregularities,’ Luis Galarreta, the vice presidential candidate on Fujimori’s ticket, told Peruvian radio on Wednesday, adding the party was preparing a case with lawyers. The allegations, with some echoes of the legal wrangling after the U.S. election last year, could trigger weeks of confusion and tension, amid a polarized election cycle that has divided Peruvians, with higher-income citizens supporting the right-wing candidate and lower-income ones supporting Castillo. On Tuesday, hundreds of voters on both sides demonstrated in front of Peru’s elections office against the perception of irregularities in the vote counting process. Castillo has made calls on supporters to ‘defend the vote’. There are also some 300,000 contested votes, which will need to be further scrutinized by an electoral jury, a process that will take several days to complete and could tip the balance” – Reuters.