LIMA — The mayor of Peru’s capital appeared to survive a recall vote on Sunday, three exit polls showed, narrowly defeating traditional power brokers who tried to oust her from power in Lima before a presidential election in 2016. An Ipsos exit poll showed 52.6 percent of voters want mayor Susana Villaran to finish her four-year term, compared with 47.4 percent who voted for her removal.
Other exit polls by the survey firms Datum and CPI showed similar results, but Villaran’s opponents did not concede defeat and a recount is possible as the election was close. Official results will be announced on Monday. “Today Lima won, we all won,” Villaran said in a speech after the exit polls were released. Her showing in the polls reassured fellow left-of-center politicians. They viewed the recall campaign as driven by conservative parties jockeying for sway in the 2016 presidential election, when President Ollanta Humala cannot run for a second straight term. Lima, with a third of Peru’s population, often drives the outcomes of presidential elections. “Congratulations, Susana. We are proud to have bet as always for decency and democratic consolidation,” former President Alejandro Toledo said on Twitter. Villaran, the first woman ever elected as mayor of Lima and the first leftist to hold that office in decades, spent months defending her two-year old administration as an alliance of conservative politicians, evangelical leaders and informal food and transportation workers said she was too inept to be allowed to finish her term.
Only a week ago, polls showed she would lose the recall vote in the city of 8 million — a reminder of the volatile nature of voter sentiment in Peru.