LIMA, April 11 (Reuters) - Peruvian far-left candidate Pedro
Castillo is set to win the Andean country's first-round
presidential election, though he will face a run-off vote in
June with an electorate fragmented after a year of political and
The 51-year-old union leader and primary school teacher, a
shock winner after a late surge in the polls, had 16.2% of the
vote with half the ballots tallied on the official count https://www.resultados.eleccionesgenerales2021.pe/EG2021/EleccionesPresidenciales/RePres/T.
A fast count from Ipsos Peru showed him winning the race.
That level of support falls well short of the majority
needed to win outright, however, meaning Castillo will face the
second place candidate in a head-to-head vote.
The official count showed liberal economist Hernando de Soto
in second place with 13.6% and the far-right's Rafael Lopez
Aliaga in third place with 12.9%. Conservative Keiko Fujimori
was in fourth place also with 12.9% but was gaining ground as
votes were counted. The fast count predicted she would come
With many caught off guard by Castillo's success, the
unexpected outcome is likely to add to jitters over the future
leadership of the world's second-largest copper producer, where
political uncertainty has weighed on markets in recent months.
Peru is battling a new wave of COVID-19 infections with
hospitals packed, sharpening a sense of crisis in the country,
which impeached one president last year and saw another resign
shortly after amid deadly street protests.
Castillo, whose Free Peru party calls itself "socialist
left", has pledged to redraft the constitution to weaken the
business elite and give the state a more dominant role in
sectors such as mining, oil, hydropower, gas and communications.
"I am grateful to the Peruvian people for this result,"
Castillo, who wore a trademark cowboy hat when he arrived on
horseback to vote, told supporters. "I ask for calm until the
Free marketeer Fujimori is a deeply divisive figure whose
father, a former President, was jailed for human rights abuses.
She herself has spent time on remand over claims that she
received $1.2 million from Brazilian construction company
Odebrecht, which she denies.
Hernando de Soto is a strong supporter of free markets and
would continue spending to bolster the economy, while Lopez
Aliaga is a hotel and railway magnate and a member of Opus Dei
often compared to Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro.
Celebrations in Castillo's home city of Cajamarca, in Peru's
northern highlands, continued into the night. The leftist had
surged late from the back of the leading group of candidates,
with exit polls showing him winning strong support in Peru's
five poorest regions.
In addition to a pledge to tear up the 27-year-old
constitution, a key demand of the young protesters who launched
anti-government demonstrations last year, he has said he will
keep his teacher's salary and cut those of lawmakers.
The ballot also saw Peruvians vote for the 130-seat
congress, which looks set to remain highly fragmented with some
10 parties appearing to reach the threshold for representation
in the legislature but none with a clear majority.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing
by Diane Craft, Clarence Fernandez and Hugh Lawson)