Peruvians are going to the polls this Sunday to elect a new president. Voting is mandatory for everyone aged between 18 and 70 and there is a 30-eurofine for those who do not at least cast a blank ballot. The remnants of the Shining Path insurgency distributed flyers in central Peru this week calling for a boycott of the ballot, but authorities say a heavy security presence should help ensure the peace. Some 53,000 police officers and soldiers have been deployed across Peru with 16.5 million people expected to vote.
For weeks, election material has been distributed by land, air or water to the furthest and most difficult parts of the country to reach. Authorities have also had to cut the price of public transport to help voters get to the polls. As for the battle itself, polls suggest an extremely close contest with none of the 20 candidates likely to receive the 50 percent support needed to declare outright victory. The front-runner is Ollanta Humala, a left-leaning former army commander who led a failed coup in 2000 and has been accused of war crimes. In second place in most surveys is a right-of-centre former congresswoman, Lourdes Flores, who would be Peru’s first woman president if elected. Just behind her is centre-left ex-President Alan Garcia, whose previous rule in the 1980s was marked by economic chaos, and the rise of the militant Shining Path insurgency.