Fri, May 06, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Humala, Fujimori nearly tied in new Peru election poll

Reuters, LIMA

Right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori is in a virtual tie with left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala a month before Peru’s presidential election, a poll showed on Wednesday, driving stocks higher.

Investors betting that Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, can win the June 5 run-off vote pushed the Andean country’s stock index more than 5 percent higher in afternoon trading.

Wednesday’s Ipsos Apoyo poll is the second survey in less than a week to show the rivals in a statistical tie as Fujimori closes the gap on former army officer Humala.

Both candidates are battling to sway undecided centrist voters whose support will define the election in one of the region’s fastest-growing economies.

The Ipsos Apoyo poll, carried out between April 23 and April 30, gave Humala 39 percent of the vote, just 1 percentage point ahead of Fujimori. The margin of error was 2.2 percentage points.

The pollster’s previous voter survey, which was published on April 24, gave Humala 42 percent support versus 36 percent for Fujimori.

Humala has moderated his hard-line tone since narrowly losing the 2006 election, but he still unnerves investors who fear he could roll back years of free-market reforms introduced two decades ago by Fujimori’s father.

He says more must be done to spread the benefits of robust economic growth to the third of Peruvians living in poverty, seeking to calm investors by promising to keep inflation low, run a balanced budget and respect the country’s many free-trade pacts if elected.

Investors prefer Fujimori, who has a graduate degree in business from Columbia University in New York.

However, many voters dislike her because she served as first lady to her father, who is in jail for corruption and human rights abuses.

On Friday, a Datum poll showed Humala with 41.5 percent support and Fujimori at 40.3 percent, helping Peruvian stocks recover from heavy losses. The poll’s margin of error was 2.8 percentage points.

Before the two new polls triggered a rally, the market value of Peru’s stock index plunged by about US$18 billion in less than three weeks, according to the Maximixe brokerage.

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