Peru’s Leftist Presidential Candidate Vowing to Rewrite Constitution Rises in Popularity

Many candidates have been accused of vote-buying, and the country’s electoral board has launched an investigation into several presidential hopefuls.

Veronika Mendoza

Peru’s leftist presidential candidate Veronika Mendoza, who is vowing to strengthen labor rights and rewrite the constitution, is surging in popularity as the Andean country prepares to hold election next week.

Surprisingly, Mendoza, who has been accused of planning to run the government on lines of Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez,  has suddenly jumped 5 percentage points in the pre-poll survey, according to a pre-poll survey published by local pollster Datum Internacional. This puts Mendoza on pace to win 17.3% of valid votes in the April 10 election.

While pro-business candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is predicted to gain just 18.6% of votes, another poll released by pollster Gfk, has Mendoza and Kuczynski tied at 15% and 15.1%, respectively. Both trail frontrunner Keiko Fujimori by a huge margin.

Mendoza has also promised to tighten environmental supervision of mining companies and halt a scheduled lowering of the corporate tax rate. Some reports say Mendoza would face stiff opposition from many Peruvians, because they fear she might upset the country’s robust economy with unorthodox policies.

This is bad news for Peru because the Andean country is set to outpace China as the world’s second biggest copper supplier and is heavily dependent on copper export to power an economic recovery from a sharp slowdown in 2014.

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Meanwhile, many candidates have been accused of vote-buying, and the country’s electoral board has launched an investigation into several presidential hopefuls, including. Some reports say the investigation will push nearly half of the candidates out of the contest. Even Kuczynski is accused of vote-buying.

In the pre-poll survey, frontrunner Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori, was 8 points short of the 50% minimum needed to win outright. Another poll conducted by Ipsos showed Fujimori’s Popular Strength party winning 49% of the seats in the Congress. If she falls short of 50%, there will be a subsequent runoff election between the top two candidates — with Mendoza looking increasingly likely to be the other person on the ballot.

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