By G9ija

 Peru’s presidential election race is tightening a month ahead of a run-off vote in June, with socialist Pedro Castillo still ahead, while pollsters say the key battles are in poor, rural regions and in convincing a large group of undecided voters.

Frontrunner Castillo, a schoolteacher largely unknown to most Peruvians prior to the April first-round vote, garnered 43% of voting intentions in the poll, while Keiko Fujimori took 34%, according to pollster Ipsos Peru.

Fujimori, in her third candidacy for president of Peru, has closed the gap by two percentage points versus a similar poll by Ipsos two weeks prior. Another recent poll by Datum International also showed a tightening race.

Socialist Castillo’s support is strongest in the poorest regions of Peru, and ranges between 46% and 60%, the poll showed, while Fujimori polls strongest in the richest, but less populous, areas of the country.

“The great battle will be there, in the poorest socio-economic sectors,” Alfredo Torres, chief executive of Ipsos Peru, said in a television interview.

The Ipsos poll of 1,204 people conducted on April 30 with a margin of error of 2.8%, indicated that the share of undecided voters had fallen to 23%, from 27% two weeks prior. That margin still left plenty of room for surprises on June 6, the pollster said.

The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the economy of the world’s No. 2 copper producer, pushing up poverty and unemployment, and a slow, corruption-plagued vaccination program has left many Peruvians frustrated and angry.

Castillo, who normally sports a wide-brimmed hat and has struck a chord with Peru’s less affluent voters, wants to rewrite the country’s Constitution to weaken the business elite and give the state a more dominant role in the economy.

Fujimori, a free-market proponent and daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori who is in jail for human rights abuses, also has pledged to distribute the country’s mineral wealth more evenly to the Peruvian people and to provide vaccines.