Quite the most quirky feature of the presidential election in Peru is that no winner has yet been declared for voting that took place on June 6. Pedro Castillo has claimed victory but Keiko Fujimori has not conceded.
Voters were asked to choose between two radically different candidates in the second round of the presidential election.
The left-wing Castillo had confronted his right-wing rival, Fujimori, in the most polarised poll in Peru’s recent history. It took more than a week for the vote count to be completed but neither candidate has yet been declared a winner.
With all of the votes tallied, Castillo had 50.125 per cent of the votes and Fujimori had 49.875 per cent. The data gives Castillo a lead of 0.25 percentage points over Fujimori, or 44,058 votes.
The count was carried out by the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), the official entity in charge of organising elections in Peru.
The ONPE declared its count completed on 15 June. And yet no winner or loser has been named, reaffirming the mounting uncertainty. For all the grandstanding in Lima by Castillo’s supporters, the result remains fogbound.
The National Elections Jury (JNE) has said that it will not declare a winner until it has reviewed all the voting records that have been contested and ruled on requests to have votes annulled. Its president, Jorge Luis Salas Arena, said the JNE was proceeding “impartially and transparently” and urged Peruvians to wait calmly. The general mood is that the election was nothing but impartial.
The JNE hearings, in which appeals by the two parties are being reviewed and ruled on, are being broadcast live on TV and Facebook to ensure transparency. Both parties had asked for a number of voting records to be reviewed claiming irregularities, but the majority of appeals have come from Fujimori’s Popular Force party.
She has alleged that there has been large-scale election fraud, and last week asked election authorities to annul about 200,000 votes.
However, she provided little detailed evidence of systematic fraud, which would be required for the votes to be scrapped. She is also contesting a number of voting records ~ the sheets on which the ballot tally is recorded at the polling stations ~ questioning in particular those from some rural areas which had her receiving “no votes”.
With the two candidates representing very different visions for Peru, the winner could define the path the country takes for the next five years. Castillo is a political newcomer, a left-wing primary school teacher from rural Peru who was little known before the first round of the election. Critics of Ms Fujimori fear that if she were to govern, it would result in a return to power for Peru’s “old guard”.
The country’s uncertainty is dire.