Pedro Castillo Still Narrowly Ahead in Peru

Leftist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo has managed to maintain his lead in the polls with just 16 days remaining for Peru’s election. A survey conducted by Datum, published today (Friday, May 21st), shows Castillo receiving 45.5% of voter intention, and far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori sitting at 40.1%. 

Castillo’s five point advantage is a far cry from his double-digit lead in late April, at the beginning of the second round, when he was polling 10-20% above Fujimori. 

The tendency in May has been for Castillo’s numbers to stagnate, while Fujimori has made large gains from the centrist middle class which has begrudgingly embraced far-right populism to stop the left. In urban Lima, which holds the largest concentration of wealthy and middle class voters, Fujimori has jumped from 31.4% on April 25th, to 51.5% today. 

Nevertheless, today’s Datum poll suggests that as of mid-May, Castillo has been able to pause Fujimori’s advances. On the 13th of May, a poll by the same company showed Castillo with a lead of just 3%. Despite fluctuations, Castillo has led Fujimori in all surveys which have been conducted by the main polling firms since the start of the campaign.

Fujimori is the daughter of former right-wing dictator Alberto Fujimori and has vowed to grant him a presidential pardon and release him from jail if she is to win. A large section of wealthy liberal voters are suspicious of Fujimori’s authoritarianism, but many have now swung around as mainstream media pounds the public with fear-inducing coverage, accusing Pedro Castillo of being a ‘terrorist’ and of being ‘ignorant’ due to his humble rural upbringing. One right-wing newspaper, Peru21, even accused Pedro Castillo of being responsible for a recent rise in the price of chicken. 

Though Castillo has won scant praise from Peru’s national media, international endorsements have boosted his campaign. Evo Morales has been vocal in his support, stating that Pedro Castillo’s proposals are similar to those implemented by the Movement Towards Socialism in Bolivia.

At a rally in April, Evo said, “Pedro Castillo has won (the first election round) with our proposals. I once spoke by phone with the presidential candidate… Pedro Castillo said: If I am President, I’m going to lower my salary, which we did in Bolivia; second, he said I am going to guarantee the Constituent Assembly to re-found Peru, which was our proposal; third, I am going to nationalize mining and hydrocarbons, that is our proposal.. we export our politics which come from the social movements.”