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Kuczynski Has Won Peru's Presidential Election Thanks to the Anti-Fujimori Vote

While he is best known internationally as a former World Bank Official, Kuczynski also has a family history replete with ties to highbrow culture, noted scientists, and celebrity.
Picture by Manuel Medir/LatinContent/Getty Images

Former World Bank official and economy minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has declared himself the winner of Peru's presidential election by a tiny margin of around 40,000 votes — less people than it takes to fill the country's national soccer stadium.

Though the electoral authorities have still to declare him formally as the winner, because of a small number of disputed ballots, the official count gives the center-right technocrat 50.12 percent of the votes. That's just 0.24 points ahead of Keiko Fujimori, his only rival in Sunday's runoff poll.

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In his first speech since claiming victory, Kuczynski sought to present himself as sensitive to the fact that the country is split down the middle, but also keen to show he is a decisive leader.

"Peru faces great challenges in the future. Let's not confuse dialogue with weakness," he told supporters. "We are one country, and we must work as that. There are many points of view and Peru is a nation with a big heart and soul."

This is Fujimori's second failed attempt to become president. The 41-year-old daughter of the former president and 90s strongman Alberto Fujimori — who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for running death squads and graft — also narrowly lost the 2011 runoff to the left-leaning former military officer and current president, Ollanta Humala.

Fujimori conceded defeat on Friday afternoon. She promised to lead a responsible opposition, though she also accused the media of promoting a "hate campaign" against her.

Most observers say Kuczynski's victory owes much to a rallying of anti-Fujimori feeling behind his candidacy, though he also appeared to court her during the campaign by hinting he might be prepared to let the former president out of jail. In his first interview since declaring himself the winner, published in Semana Económica on Friday, Kuczynski said that he would not oppose a general law allowing elderly prisoners to finish their sentences under house arrest.

While Kuczynski is best known internationally for his seemingly dry technocratic jobs in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as his terms as economic minister and prime minister, his family history is also replete with ties to renowned scientists, highbrow culture, and celebrity.

The winner of Sunday's election is the son of a German Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany for Peru, and a painter and teacher who was the cousin of French cinematic guru Jean-Luc Godard. Kuczynski's first marriage made him the son-in-law of US congressman Joseph Edward Casey. His second turned him into a relative of Oscar winning actor Jessica Lange. His sister, meanwhile, is married to a Nobel prize winning medical doctor.

Related: Kuczynski Still Has a Razor-Thin Lead Over Fujimori in Peru's Presidential Election

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