Unhappy with the recent turn of public opinion, the organizers of a recall vote against Lima’s mayor, Susana Villaran, said Thursday that they’ve filed a request with Peru’s national elections process board to investigate a polling firm that has showed a tight race in the referendum.
Luis Tudela, the lawyer representing the organizers, said they believe that pollster Datum Internacional has “manipulated results” of its most recent public opinion polls, which shows a sharp narrowing of the gap between supporters and opposers of the recall.
“We’ve presented an investigation request against pollster Datum,” daily Gestion reported Tudela as saying. “It is very strange, this handling of public opinion.”
Datum’s most recent polls show a technical tie in the recall vote, while other pollsters have found that, although the gap has narrowed substantially since January, support for removing the mayor still has a slight advantage over the mayor’s campaign to stay in office. In fact, all polls have shown that a large lead once enjoyed by supporters of the recall has declined sharply as the mayor and her allies step up the campaign to boost her support.
The request by the organizers of the recall is seen by some critics as an attempt to distract attention from an upsurge in Villaran’s support.
The head of Datum, Manuel Torrado, said earlier this week that if a request to investigate his pollster is presented, the firm will sue the organizers of the recall for defamation.
Residents in Lima, Peru’s largest city and home to some 9 million people, will vote on the future of Villaran on March 17. Elected for a four-year term, she has just completed two years of her administration. Supporters of the recall say she has been an ineffective manager of the city. The mayor’s allies, however, point to several of her reforms to clean up the city and have suggested that the recall vote is being promoted by shadowy figures affected by Villaran’s efforts to curb corruption, particularly in the public transport system.