LIMA, Peru—After trailing Keiko Fujimori in the polls for weeks, former World Bank economist and investment banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski enjoyed a surge of support just before Peru’s run-off election on June 5 to win one of the most contested presidential races in the country’s history.
Kuczynski is widely regarded as capable and honest, but he faces major challenges as he attempts to strengthen the economy and improve life for Peruvians. The country’s cities and northern regions suffer high crime rates; its vast jungle regions are dominated by drug traffickers; and corruption is rampant in the national police and courts. Economic growth is slowing, and the national education and health care systems have critical deficiencies. But the greatest obstacle Kuczynski faces may be the fact that Fujimori’s party holds a majority of seats in Peru’s Congress.
The presidential vote was so close that it took election officials four days to confirm that Kuczynski had won, and Fujimori didn’t concede defeat until last Friday. Kuczynski won 50.12 percent of the more than 17 million ballots cast, while Fujimori won 49.88 percent, with a difference of just 42,597 votes.