The search for a victor went right down to the wire, but this month Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, an economist known popularly as PPK or, more pointedly, El Gringo (a reference to his decades spent studying and working in the US) won the presidency of Peru by defeating Keiko Fujimori, a right-wing populist and daughter of a former president.
Kuczynski, who previously served as both minister of economy and finance and prime minister in the 2001-2006 presidency of Alejandro Toledo, has promised to steer Peru through continued economic growth (predicted to be around 4% for 2016), while much of the Americas remain mired in recession.
The internationally-minded, somewhat colourless Mr Kuczynski presented a stark contract to the younger Fujimori, whose father Alberto’s 1990 to 2000 regime, though credited with breaking the back of the Sendero Luminoso and Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru rebel movements, also included widespread human rights abuses and pervasive corruption. The elder Fujimori has been in prison since 2009 serving a a 25-year sentence. Mr Kuczynski will be taking over the presidency from Ollanta Humala, a former army officer who initially presented himself as something of a politician in the mould of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, only to tack right after his 2011 election.
Though many foreign observers welcomed Mr Kuczynski’s victory, the wafer-thin nature of his electoral margin – 50.12% to Fujimori’s 49.87% – is a reminder that Peru remains a deeply divided society. The odd coalition that came together to push Mr Kuczynski past the post – left-wing socialists and fiscal conservatives – exists in marked contrast to those who feel they have been excluded by the country’s somewhat unequal economic growth, largely led by a resilient mining sector buoyed by ample foreign investment.
It is to this stratum of Peruvian society that Keiko Fujimori’s candidacy held the most appeal. Though Fujimorismo, as the political thinking Fujimori and her supporters espouse is known, remains the bane of the country’s elite, it will still have substantial influence in congress. Whether her supporters will be open to a post-election détente with Mr Kuczynski remains to be seen.