Former Mayor Castañeda Has Big Lead in Race for Lima Mayor

The former mayor of Lima, Luis Castañeda, continues to have a wide lead over opponents only two weeks before the vote, according to a new poll.

A poll published on Monday by Datum said that Castañeda had 57.7 percent support, well-above his next closest rivals. Salvador Heresi, the current mayor of Lima’s San Miguel district, has 10.5 percent support, while current Lima Mayor Susana Villaran has 10 percent support, the poll found.

Castañeda, who was mayor of Lima from 2003 to 2010, has support across the board, but it is strongest among Lima’s lower-income sectors.

In the D and E groups, the poorest socio-economic sectors, Castañeda has 65.8 percent and 77.1 percent support, respectively. In the upper-class A group, the former mayor has 45.1 percent support.

More than 85 percent of those who plan to support Castañeda said they were “very sure” they would vote for him on election day.

Those that support Castañeda generally say they do so because he carried out several public sector works during his two terms, 2002-2010.

And support for the former mayor is high even though many believe there were incidents of widespread corruption during his administration.

One survey over the weekend said that 49 percent supported Castañeda because although they believe he is corrupt, he plans to do more works.

Although state attorneys and prosecutors continue to exclude him from a number of ongoing investigations into corruption during his administration, Castañeda remains tenuously linked to the Comunicore case, which involves a $36mn debt fraud as well as allegations of money laundering traced by the Banking Superintendency’s Financial Investigations Unit, UIF.

Even so, current Mayor Susana Villaran appears highly unlikely to pose a last-minute challenge to Castañeda.

Even if support began to fall off for Castañeda in the final weeks of the campaign, 30 percent of respondents to the Datum poll said they would vote for Heresi instead of Villaran. About 8 percent said they would vote for Enrique Cornejo, a former Transport minister during Alan Garcia’s administration, and 7 percent said they would vote for Villaran.

Villaran’s administration, which has sought to reform Lima’s seriously outdated transportation system and achieved , has faced stiff opposition from day one from opposition politicians who organized a failed referendum to remove her from office mid-way through her term.  Her administration has notched up a number of successes in transport, parks, education, social services, and in reinstating an active cultural program. It has also twice won the national price for transparency in its operations and public access to information.

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