Peru's left-wing candidate Veronika Mendoza was top scorer in Sunday's presidential debate, promising voters an end to corruption, profound change and a new economic model if elected.
“We will be a government of the people. The first thing [we will do] is to end corruption,” said Mendoza, who represents the left-wing National Front party.
She then continued by promising a “new economic” model for the country and criticized its dependence on the extractive industries, particularly mining.
“We do not believe that Peru must remain a simple warehouse of stones,” she said, when asked about her economic plan.
According to figures released by Peru's Diario Correo, Mendoza came in second in Sunday's debate with 22.7 percent support, after Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki (25.8 percent), the 77-year-old investor favorite. Kuczysnki promised to stimulate small businesses and promote the agriculture sector that make up “Peru's poorest areas.”
“If I become president of Peru I will guarantee health, education and security if it's the last thing I do in my life … I have a dream I want a Peru united,” said Kuczysnki Sunday.
Sunday's debate is seen as another major win for Mendoza, who has been leading her campaign with a push for a new constitution to weaken the business elite and empower the government to work on behalf of the poor and working classes.
Last week, the left-wing candidate saw a major surge in the polls, causing analysts to believe that no one will win the majority in next week's election and will take voting into a second round.
Peru's frontrunner Keiko Fujimori came in fourth place in Sunday's debate, according to Diario Correo, yet another indication of the presidential hopeful's diminishing support.
People protest against Keiko Fujimori outside of the presidential debate. Photo: Reuters
Fujimori has been facing a growing rejection by an important sector of the population that does not forgive the crimes of her father, Alberto Fujimori, who ruled with an iron fist between 1990 and 2000.
Several civic groups have even scheduled a march against Fujimori's presidential bid, which will take place on April 5, the anniversary of so-called “self-coup” that gave her father the power to close Congress and assume broad powers.
In Sunday's debate, Fujimori expressed a commitment to change, promising to “put the state at your service to get back those lost years.” This includes, building schools, infrastructure, promoting new tourist routes, investing in science and technology, and “ending insecurity once and for all.”
Mendoza is also among those who have criticized the Fujimori's father and the legacy his government left for the country.
“What would Peru be like had it not lost 6 billion dollars that disappeared during Fujimorismo?” asked the presidential candidate during Sunday's debate, after she promised to stop corruption in the country.
According to analysts, Fujimori is likely to come out on top in next week's elections but will not gain the 50 percent minimum needed to win outright. Both Mendoza and Kuczunski have been statistically tied in second place in three recent opinion polls, including the latest released by Ipsos Sunday.
According to Ipsos, in a second-round scenario, Mendoza would lose to Fujimori by six percentage points, whereas Kuczynski would beat Fujimori by two percentage points.
However, these results could be disrupted since Kuczynski has been accused of vote-buying, and could be eliminated from the race if found guilty.