March 13, 2016 / 5:36 PM / 2 years ago

Kuczynski back in second in poll on Peru presidential elections

Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski gives a news conference about the elections in San Juan de Lurigancho, on the outskirts of Lima, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Janine Costa

LIMA (Reuters) - Investor-favorite Pedro Pablo Kuczynski jumped back into second in Peru’s presidential race behind longtime frontrunner Keiko Fujimori, after two key rivals were disqualified from next month’s vote, an Ipsos poll showed Sunday.

Kuczynski rose by five percentage points to 14 percent of voter support in the new electoral scenario, his best showing since December when he peaked at 16 percent, according to the poll published in the local daily El Comercio.

The 77-year-old former World Bank economist has pledged to draw $20 billion in investments to the global mining powerhouse over three years, but his age and the perception that he is a light-skinned foreigner have weighed on his second presidential bid.

Voter support for leftist lawmaker Veronika Mendoza and center-left politician Alfredo Barnechea also jumped five points each from last month to 9 percent, tying them at third.

The race has been shaken by the electoral board’s unprecedented move to bar two candidates - Julio Guzman and Cesar Acuna - just a month before elections. The two had tapped voter frustration with traditional politicians and took turns bumping Kuczynski from second place.

Fujimori, the center-right 40-year-old daughter of imprisoned former president Alberto Fujimori, has enjoyed a wide lead over all of her rivals for months but is not expected to secure the absolute majority needed to win outright in the first round of balloting on April 10.

Fujimori recovered two points to garner 32 percent of voter support in the Ipsos poll, but the share of voters determined to vote against her rose four points to 44 percent.

The poll did not include second-round scenarios. In the last Ipsos surveys, Kuczynski was seen losing to Fujimori by five points in a run-off vote that would take place June 5.

Guzman had been seen as neck and neck with Fujimori in the second round before he was barred on a technicality - a controversy he is calling “fraud” that threatens to tarnish the legitimacy of the next president.

The share of voters intending to cast spoilt ballots rose four points to 12 percent in the Ipsos poll of 1,851 Peruvians, which had a 2.3 point margin of error and was conducted March 5-10. Voting is mandatory in Peru.

Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Alan Crosby

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