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Far-left candidate leads Peru into run-off presidential polls

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Leftist Castillo in lead with 16 percent of the vote after surprise comeback as Peru deals with economic, COVID crises.

Video Transcript

- Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Rural teacher Pedro Castillo campaigned in remote towns where health care, police, and even the internet are an illusion. Nearly unknown, Castillo won the first round of the vote.

PEDRO CASTILLO: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: While some live in great opulence and dress in ties behind desks with a luxurious life, my brothers, today, place their trust in a man of the people. Those who bite their nails every day whilst waiting for their bread to come have removed their blindfolds.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Among promises, the 51-year-old union leader says he'll nationalize resources and change the constitution. Aurora Gonzalez says those are Marxist ideas that scare her.

AURORA GONZALEZ: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I would not vote for Castillo, he's too leftist-extremist. We have no option but to vote for Keiko Fujimori.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: But Keiko Fujimori brings a wealth of problems with the judiciary. She faces 30 years in prison for corruption charges. The 45-year-old daughter of former autocrat leader Alberto Fujimori, jailed for gross human rights violations, says she'll continue her father's legacy of governing with a hard fist.

KEIKO FUJIMORI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: We will confront populism and the radical left, and I know many will join us.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: 65% of Peruvians say they would not vote for her.

MARIA LOZANO: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: It's inexplicable, people have no memory. After all what the Fujimori family has done negatively, I have no option but to vote for Castillo. As always, the least worst.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: After five years of political instability, nearly 28% of Peruvians didn't vote, and 2.8 million casted a blank or a nulled ballot.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: The chronic discontent with the state of things, democracy and politicians, has made people search for an anti-system solution.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: Analysts say whoever wins the presidency will have a problem with legitimacy. Neither candidate was favored with even 20% of the vote. And now, some analysts believe they have to move to the center of their extreme views to win voters.

ROSA MARIA PALACIOS: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: As union leader, Castillo is used to negotiating. He doesn't have an MBA like Keiko, who's never negotiated anything in her life. And if she wins, she won't have a majority in congress, which means she could easily be ousted.

MARIANA SANCHEZ: This five-year term will end in July, with a fifth president sworn in. And for many disenchanted with politics, the new vote will be like choosing between one illness or another. Mariana Sanchez, Al Jazeera, Lima, Peru.