Peru Candidate Feared by Investors Sees Poll Lead Evaporating

Peruvian presidential front-runner Pedro Castillo, whose leftist policies have rattled investors, saw his once-wide lead narrow to within the margin of error in a new poll.

A survey by Datum Internacional published Friday gave Castillo, with the Free Peru party, 42% of voter intention versus Keiko Fujimori, with the Popular Force party, at 40%.

Datum said 11% of respondents plan to cast blank ballots -- a form of protest -- and 7% remain undecided ahead of the June 6 runoff.

Peru Candidate Feared by Investors Sees Poll Lead Evaporating

The poll matches other surveys that show Castillo’s once double-digit lead dwindling fast. In April, Datum gave Castillo a 15 percentage-point advantage over Fujimori and last week he was still five percentage points ahead.

Peruvian bond and currency markets have been whipsawed in recent weeks by Castillo’s sudden rise and prolonged fall in the polls. The nation’s stocks and bonds rallied on Friday, with its 2051 dollar bond on track for its biggest jump in a week, while the benchmark stock index rallied to its highest level since March.

Even so, support for Castillo has never dipped below 40% in Datum polls, suggesting he has a core group of backers. A mock election that Datum carried out in parallel to the survey gave Castillo 44% of the vote versus Fujimori’s 41%.

Read More: Peru Holds Latin America’s Lowest Key Rate Ahead of Runoff

Union Organizer

A former teacher and union organizer, Castillo spooked investors with his proposals to exercise more state control over “strategic industries” and redistribute wealth. More recently, he’s tried to distance himself from some of the more radical positions espoused by his party, which embraces Marxism and Latin American socialists like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Peru Candidate Feared by Investors Sees Poll Lead Evaporating

Castillo’s hard-left tilt has allowed Fujimori, a former legislator facing corruption charges and the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, to present herself as a business-friendly centrist.

The Datum poll found that Fujimori was seen as the candidate most likely to “respect institutions,” “promote business,” “generate employment,” and “confront the pandemic.”

Castillo, in turn, was seen as someone who could “improve education,” “fight crime,” “combat corruption,” and “reduce poverty.”

Friday’s poll surveyed 1,201 people from May 12-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%.

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