Humala has narrow lead in Peru race: polls

LIMA (Reuters) – Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala has gained a narrow lead in Peru’s presidential race two weeks before voting but he would struggle to win a runoff, according to two polls published on Sunday.

Humala led the polls by Ipsos and CPI by 1 or 2 percentage points, within the margin of error. Pollsters said any two of the five main candidates in the tight race could make it to a second-round vote on June 5 after the first round on April 10, when no candidate is expected to win a majority of votes.

Close behind Humala, whose rise has unsettled financial markets, were former President Alejandro Toledo and lawmaker Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori. Slightly farther back were former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda and former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

In the Ipsos poll, Humala had 21 percent, followed by Toledo at 20 percent and Fujimori at 19 percent. Kuczynski had 15 percent and Castaneda was at 14 percent.

Humala led the CPI poll with 21.2 percent, followed by Fujimori at 19 percent, Toledo at 18.6 percent, Kuczynski at 16.1 percent and Castaneda at 15.5 percent.

Both polls showed Humala would lose to every major rival in a runoff, but run a tight race if matched against Kuczynski, a former Wall Street executive.

The CPI poll of 668 people was conducted from Monday to Thursday. The sample size and dates for the Ipsos survey were not immediately available. Both polls had margins of error of about 2 points.

Peru is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, having expanded 9 percent last year. All the main candidates in the race support market-friendly economic policies in place for the past two decades, but Humala has a tense relationship with the business community because of a radical past.

Although Humala has moderated his tone since nearly winning the 2006 race and distanced himself from his one-time ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his rise contributed to volatility in local financial markets in recent days.

Peru’s sol currency sank to a two-month low against the U.S. dollar last week, while the costs of insuring Peruvian sovereign bonds rose. The sol traded around 2.788 per dollar on Friday.

Humala says he is committed like his rivals to fiscal responsibility and low inflation, but his calls to raise taxes on the country’s vast mining industry or renegotiate terms of some contracts have bothered executives.

(Reporting by Terry Wade and Marco Aquino; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Humala has narrow lead in Peru race: polls