Almost a tie in Peru
They are still counting votes in Peru. The election is incredibly close, according to the latest reports from Lima:
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 77, was leading Keiko Fujimori, 41, by less than one percentage point, or about 57,000 of roughly 17 million votes cast, the country’s electoral commission said Tuesday.
Fifty-seven thousand votes out of 17 million cast is beyond close!
The remaining precincts are abroad, or Peruvians voting in embassies or consulates around the world. The Guardian estimates that number at 855,000, most of them living in the U.S. A recent poll showed Mr. Kuczynski with an 8-point lead, with those Peruvians living abroad. At the same time, none of the pollsters saw such a contested election coming.
Can Miss Fujimori make up the difference with the Peruvians living abroad? It's hard to tell, because both are center-right candidates and there are few ideological differences over the economy. The most passionate issue in the election is the Fujimori name, or the previous president who is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption.
The big question is whether the loser will accept the results or not. There is no evidence of fraud, so a recount should not change the results.
At the same time, can the winner of such a close election govern? It would help a lot if the loser conceded quickly and put the country first. As in most multiparty countries, the next president will have to put together a coalition to get anything done.
There are two important points to make about this election:
1) The process was contested but free of violence. We salute the two major candidates for showing great maturity; and,
2) Peru should continue to shine in South America, even though the economy has slowed a bit because of a drop in the prices for the metals that Peru exports. Both candidates are free-market friendly and will continue to encourage foreign investment.
According to official sources:
Peru is currently our 35th largest goods trading partner with $14 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2015.
Goods exports totaled $8.8 billion; goods imports totaled $5.1 billion.
The U.S. goods trade surplus with Peru was $3.7 billion in 2015.
According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods to Peru supported an estimated 40 thousand jobs in 2014 (latest data available).
Eventually, the election results will be final. My guess is that Mr. Kuczynski will prevail, but I could be dead wrong after that vote from abroad gets counted.