Social Force sees Villarán’s lead widening with ballots from Lima’s north

Susana Villarán had a 16, 297-vote lead over Lourdes Flores early Saturday as counting of election results from the Oct. 3 ballot reached a painstakingly slow conclusion.

According to the latest report from National Office of Electoral Processes, ONPE, with 88.6 percent of ballot tally sheets counted, Villarán had 1,565,775 votes, compared to 1,549,478 votes for conservative Popular Christian Party  leader Flores, Radioprogramas reported.

Villarán’s Social Force party expressed optimism that the leftist candidate will maintain and increase her lead over Flores now that ballots in northern Lima are being counted.

Villarán’s campaign chief, Eduardo Zegarra, expects a “significant difference” to emerge between the two candidates thanks to support for Villarán in Lima’s “northern cone,” as well as the eastern zones, state news agency Andina reported. He called on the National Election Board (JNE) to count the ballots from those zones as quick as possible.

The majority of the ballot tally sheets waiting to be counted are located in Lima’s north. On Friday afternoon, there were 2,542 sheets in the north, compared to 900 from Lima’s eastern districts, 398 in the west, 310 in the south and 69 in the capital’s downtown.

Villarán had maintained a 1-2 percent lead over Flores since Lima went to the polls on October 3. However that advantage fell dramatically this week and on Friday morning the difference was only 7,844 votes.

“We want to announce our deep discomfort in the way that the votes are being managed,” Zegarra said. “They are creating the sensation that it is being managed in which the population can see it as a fraud, even when it is not. It is generating doubts and gossip.”

After the initial results from the election, political analysts had said it was unlikely that Flores would be able to overcome Villarán with Fernando Tuesta, the director of the Catholic University’s Institute of Public Opinion, saying it would be “almost impossible that the scenario changes.”

However, members of Flores Popular Christian Party (PPC) are still optimistic that their candidate can win the election, especially with the latest results.

“Numerically, a triumph is very possible. So with optimism, but keeping calm, we are going to wait for the results,” said PPC’s legal representative, Jose Luis Rodriguez.

The delay in announcing a winner is due to irregularities in an unusually high number of ballot tally sheets. Half of the 8,384 cases were officially attributed to tally sheets lacking the mandatory signatures and fingerprints of citizen poll workers.

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