UPDATE 1-Peru’s Humala maintains poll lead on eve of vote

(Note: election law forbids publication of polls in Peru a
week prior to April 10 voting)

* New poll points to Humala-Fujimori runoff

* Three business-backed rivals seen vying for run-off spot

* Pollster says ruling party support may boost Kuczynski
(Recasts with latest Ipsos poll)

By Marco Aquino

LIMA, April 9 (Reuters) – Peru’s left-wing front-runner,
Ollanta Humala, has maintained his lead over three more
business-friendly rivals, a poll showed on Saturday on the eve
of the presidential election.

The Ipsos poll gave nationalist Humala 28.1 percent of the
vote, followed by right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori with 21.1
percent, pointing to a close runoff between them on June 5.
Fujimori is the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto
Fujimori.

The poll of 6,000 people, which was carried out on
Saturday, gave former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski 19.9
percent and former President Alejandro Toledo 16.8 percent, a
source with access to the survey told Reuters. The margin of
error was not available.

Fujimori, Kuczynski and Toledo are favored over Humala by
the business community in one of the world’s fastest-growing
economies, although Humala has sought to portray himself as a
moderate leftist who has moved on from his radical past.

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Full campaign coverage [ID:nVOTEPE]

PDF report on the race http://r.reuters.com/qaq88r

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Peru’s ruling party backed Kuczynski on Saturday, a step
one pollster said could boost the former Wall Street banker’s
chances of making it into the expected runoff.

A second round is held if no candidate gets more than 50
percent of the vote.

The APRA party of President Alan Garcia, who cannot run
again, said Kuczynski had “democratic convictions” that would
guarantee the continuation of current government policy.

“Our support is unconditional and we haven’t even spoken
with (Kuczynski). We’ve done this with the country’s interests
in mind,” Jorge del Castillo, an APRA figure, told Reuters.

ECONOMY BOOMING

Peru is enjoying a decade-long economic boom and much of
the campaign has focused on who can guarantee continued growth,
while also spreading the benefits to the one in three Peruvians
who still lives in poverty.

Despite the strong economic growth seen during his
presidency, Garcia has a disapproval rating of about 60 percent
and the party is not running its own candidate.

Some political analysts say APRA’s support could help swing
the tight race, although others point to its weakened influence
in recent years.

“The backing of APRA could mean about 3 percentage points,”
said Manuel Saavedra of the CPI pollsters. “APRA’s support is
very important. It it wasn’t for that, it would look tricky for
(Kuczynski) to get to the second round.”

Kuczynski, 72, known as “El Gringo” because of his European
parents, is backed strongly by wealthy voters in the capital,
Lima. But he could struggle to gain traction farther afield.

Most recent polls have shown him gaining ground. The
previous Ipsos poll, published on Thursday, gave him 18.4
percent.

Humala has surged in the race by shedding his hard-line
image and recasting himself as a soft leftist in the mold of
Brazil’s popular former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
(Additional reporting by Teresa Cespedes; Writing by Helen
Popper; Editing by Peter Cooney)

UPDATE 1-Peru’s Humala maintains poll lead on eve of vote