Elections: Guzmán closes in on second place

15 February 2016

With less than two months to the first round of elections, the coveted second position is looking more attainable for self-proclaimed ‘outsider’ Julio Guzmán. As we reported last week, he is currently facing a legal challenge to his registration over whether his party followed prescribed internal election procedures. The National Electoral Jury (JNE) was due to give a ruling on 10 February, but now a decision is expected on 17 February.

An advance poll (simulacro) from Datum, produced on 10 February, placed Guzmán in second place (behind Keiko Fujimori). Two days later, its monthly poll came out putting Guzman on 17% support, a 13 percentage point increase on January. His candidacy appears not to have suffered from his apparent contradictions in television interviews, and it has benefitted from growing media exposure.

Guzmán appears to have more support in the south of the country than Fujimori, who still tops the polls but whose popularity remains stuck at around 35%. The south of Peru has tended to vote differently from than the rest of the country, supporting candidates who offer change. Currently Fujimori is polling 21% in the south, as opposed to 25% for Guzmán.

Another reason why Guzmán is rising is because his rivals are falling, notably César Acuña who is fighting accusations of plagiarism and whose previously upwards surge has lost two points in a month, according to Datum (8%). Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski has lost three points (he is on 11%) and looks unable to reverse this trend (in spite of sacking his previous strategists). Alan Garcia has also lost two percentage points (now 4%), followed closely by Alfredo Barnechea (3%). According to Datum, Veronika Mendoza has overtaken Alejandro Toledo by a fraction of a percentage (both at around 2%).

Guzman appears best placed to challenge Fujimori in the second round. Datum reckons he would attract 41% of the vote, as against her 42%. He would be able to draw together the anti-Fujimorista vote, swaying wavering voters in his direction.

Of course, the elections are still some way off, and voting preferences in Peru are susceptible to sudden change. Also, the JNE could give Guzmán the thumbs down next week.

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