Peru’s Humala noses ahead on eve of run-off – poll

* Humala edges ahead of Fujimori, pair technically tied

* Peru markets volatile on fears Humala will win

By Patricia Velez

LIMA (Reuters) – Left-winger Ollanta Humala has edged into the lead on the eve of Peru’s presidential election, a key poll showed Saturday, but the race is still a statistical tie, a source familiar with the data said.

The poll by Datum showed the former army officer had 50.8 percent of the vote, while right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori, had 49.2 percent.

The survey polled 5,015 people nationwide, with a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points. A separate poll by Datum published Friday had given Fujimori a slight edge. Surveys by other pollsters this week have also shown a technical tie.

Peru’s stocks and currency have swung wildly as Humala narrowed in on, and even edged ahead of, market-favorite Fujimori in polls, as investors worry he will impose tighter state control over the economy, boost social spending and undermine fiscal stability in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Top minerals exporter Peru has grown nearly as fast as China over the past few years, though a third of Peruvians still live in poverty.

Votes from Peruvians overseas could prove crucial, and markets are bracing for the prospect of a recount that could take days.

Fujimori’s father opened Peru to free trade and tamed hyperinflation while he was president in the 1990s, but he was later sent to prison for corruption and for using death squads to crack down on left-wing insurgents.

Humala, who as an army commander led a bloodless revolt in 2000 to demand the elder Fujimori step down and narrowly lost the 2006 election, has sought to win over moderate voters by toning down fiery anti-capitalist rhetoric. He says investors have nothing to fear.

“We are proposing democracy, not dictatorship … with development, social and economic inclusion, as well as economic growth,” Humala said in a television interview late Friday.

Humala has promised to run a balanced budget, name experienced technocrats to his cabinet, and has vowed to respect foreign investors who plan to pour $40 billion into mining and oil projects over the next decade.

Humala has tried to cast himself in the vein of Brazil’s center-left former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and has distanced himself from his one-time political mentor, Venezuela’s firebrand leftist leader Hugo Chavez.

Like Fujimori, he wants a windfall tax on the vast mining sector. He also says the state must vigorously regulate the economy and exert more control over “strategic” natural resources. Still, he has ruled out taking over private firms.

Wary markets prefer Fujimori, who has warned that Humala could roll back free-market reforms that were first implemented by her father and contributed to stability after years of economic chaos and guerrilla wars.