Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had a slight lead over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of an imprisoned former president, as early results came in from Peru's presidential election on Sunday. The 77-year-old Kuczynski had 50.59% support while Fujimori had 49.41% with about 52% of votes counted.
Earlier, polling firm Ipsos said its quick count of a sample of votes gave Kuczynski, known in Peru as PPK, about 50.5% and Fujimori 49.5%, a technical tie. Another pollster, GfK, gave Kuczynski 50.8% of votes to Fujimori's 49.2%.
The most likely scenario is that PPK wins the election and becomes the next president of Peru, said Alfredo Torres, an analyst with Ipsos, although he cautioned it was too early to call the election because it was so close.
Kuczynski, a former prime minister and investment banker, portrayed himself as an honest and experienced leader and has promised to clean up corruption and revive sluggish economic growth.
We take this preliminary verdict with optimism, but with modesty, a grinning Kuczynski told cheering supporters from a balcony at his Lima campaign headquarters.
He told the crowd to be vigilant until the final official results were announced.
Fujimori, 41, a former congresswoman, had a big lead in the first round of voting in April and was ahead in most opinion polls a week ago. But her lead melted away in the final days of campaigning in Peru's fourth democratic election since the end of her father Alberto Fujimori's decade-long rule in 2000.
Fujimori, who narrowly lost her first presidential bid against left-leaning Ollanta Humala in 2011, said in an upbeat speech on Sunday evening that rural votes from deep Peru still needed to be counted.
This is a tight vote without a doubt ... what we're seeing is the vitality of democracy in our country, and that fills me with pride, Fujimori said in front of her orange-clad supporters at her campaign headquarters in Lima.
If Kuczynski finally wins, he will have to reckon with a solid majority of Fujimori's party in Congress and a leftist party that has promised not to align with either of them.
While both candidates are fiscal conservatives who would maintain a free-market model in the resource-rich Andean economy, their styles and approaches differ widely.
The campaign pitted the Fujimori family's brand of conservative populism against Kuczynski's elite background and stiff technocratic style, which has curbed his appeal in poor provinces and working-class districts.