Recent polls have placed Keiko Fujimori and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in a tie prior to Peru's run-off vote. Fujimori - daughter of an ex-president currently in jail - has tried to fight her father's soiled reputation.
Voters in Peru head to the polls on Sunday in an election whichcould make the 41-year-old Keiko Fujimori the country's new leader,
despite her father's tainted past. The elder Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses and corruption during his 10-year rule.
A mock voting exercise by pollster GfK on Saturday showed 51 percent of voters siding with 77-year-old former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and 49 percent for Fujimori. A 1.6 margin of error placed the candidates in a statistical tie.
Still, the slight percentage lead shows an improvement for Kuczynski, who trailed Fujimori by almost 20 points in the first round of voting.
Clash of the conservatives
Although both candidates are fiscal conservatives with pro-market stances, their approaches differ greatly. As a big mineral exporter, Peru's economy outperforms most of its neighbors, but still suffers under high crime rates.
Fujimori inherited the country's populist "Popular Force" party from her father and has vowed to be hard on crime by supporting the death penalty, and championing for more police and soldiers on the streets.
One of her campaign proposals included plans to create five new prisons to house the country's most dangerous criminals to be built above 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains.
"That's where we'll send the hit men, the rapists, the kidnappers! Very far from here!" she told the crowd at her last campaign rally that drew tens of thousands of supporters.
She has painted her opponent as an agent of big business who is out of touch with ordinary citizens. Kuczynski has also pledged an end to violence as well as corruption.
"Peru is on the threshold of becoming a narco-state," he told supporters at his closing campaign rally in Lima - referencing Fujimori's father's links to organized crime, and death squads.
Fighting father's legacy
Throughout her campaign, Fujimori has tried to distance herself from her father's crimes, even going so far asto sign a pledge
promising not to pardon him should she be elected president.
"I'm the candidate, not my father," she frequently said.
Fujimori's own presidential bid has also been plagued by corruption scandals andfierce demonstrations against her candidacy.
Prosecutors opened an investigation in late May against Fujimori and her husbandfor suspicious campaign contributions.
Fujimori's senior aide also recently resigned after reports surfaced that he was being investigated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration for money laundering.
In April, her Popular Force party won 73 of 130 seats in the unicameral congress, which could make Fujimori the first president since her father to govern with a legislative majority. Critics say a Fujimori win, therefore, poses a risk to Peru's weakened system of checks and balances.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)