Far-left candidate Castillo ahead in Peru’s presidential race, according to initial polls

Right-left candidate Pedro Castillo leads the Peruvian presidential race with 16.1% of the vote, followed by conservative Keiko Fujimori and liberal economist Hernando de Soto, tied for second with 11.9%, according to an Ipsos poll released on Sunday evening.

In fourth place is the social conservative Yonhy Lescano, with 11% of the vote, followed by the ultra-conservative Rafael Lopez Aliaga with 10.5% and the left Veronika Mendoza with 8.8%, according to the initial poll.

The official results are expected to start coming in at 23.30 (0430 GMT Monday). The two best candidates advance to a second round in June.

The survey of 30,000 voters who left polling stations in 150 provinces had a 3-point margin of error.

Eighteen candidates are taking part in the presidency in a tight race that has led to shakes among market observers from the world’s second largest copper producer and seen solar currency trading at historically low levels against the dollar.

It was celebrated according to the early performance indicator in Castillo’s hometown of Cajamarca, in the northern highlands of Peru.

“I am grateful to the Peruvian people for this result,” Castillo told supporters, “and I ask for calm until the end result.”

Castillo, 51, an elementary school teacher and union leader, put up a late rise in the polls and suggested answers for many of Peru’s poorest people, especially in the country’s largely rural interior.

He has vowed to reformulate Peru’s 27-year-old constitution, one of the key demands of young protesters who launched anti-government demonstrations late last year, in order to weaken the business elite and give the state a more dominant role in sectors such as mining, oil, hydropower, gas and communications.

Voters also elected a new congress. Another highly fragmented legislator with 130 members is expected.

Peru is engulfed by a second wave of coronavirus pandemics and on Saturday reported 384 COVID-19 deaths in a dismal new daily record for the country.