image copyrightGetty Pedro Castillo has claimed victory but Keiko Fujimori has not conceded

BBC- Voters in Peru were asked to choose between two radically different candidates in the second round of the presidential election held on 6 June.

Left-wing former school teacher Pedro Castillo faced his right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori in the most polarised poll in Peru’s recent history.

It took more than a week for the vote count to be completed but neither candidate has been declared a winner yet.

What do the figures say?

With all of the votes tallied, Pedro Castillo had 50.125% of the votes and Keiko Fujimori had 49.875%.

Those figures give Mr Castillo a lead of 0.25 percentage points over Ms Fujimori, which amounts to 44,058 votes.

The count was carried out by the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), the official body in charge of organising elections in Peru.

The ONPE declared its count completed on 15 June.

If the counting has finished why is there no official winner?

Followers of Pedro Castillo celebrate in Lima, Peru, 15 June 2021image copyrightEPA
Supporters of Pedro Castillo have been celebrating but no winner has been declared yet

The independent body in charge of declaring a winner is the National Elections Jury (JNE), not the ONPE.

The JNE has said that it will not declare a winner until it has reviewed all the voting records that have been contested and ruled on requests to have votes annulled.

Its president, Jorge Luis Salas Arena, said the JNE was proceeding “impartially and transparently” and urged Peruvians to wait calmly.

The JNE hearings in which appeals by the two parties are being reviewed and ruled on are being broadcast live on TV and Facebook to ensure transparency.

Why are ballots being reviewed?

Both parties had asked for a number of voting records to be reviewed claiming irregularities, but the majority of appeals have come from Keiko Fujimori’s Popular Force party.

Ms Fujimori alleges that there has been large-scale election fraud, and last week asked election authorities to annul about 200,000 votes. However, she provided little detailed evidence of systematic fraud, which would be required for the votes to be scrapped.

She is also contesting a number of voting records – the sheets on which the ballot tally is recorded at the polling stations – questioning in particular those from some rural areas which had her receiving no votes whatsoever.

Peru's presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori (C) looks at supporters while leading a demonstration in Lima, Peru June 12, 2021image copyrightReuters
Keiko Fujimori alleges there was large-scale election fraud

She claims this would be a highly unlikely outcome and has accused Mr Castillo’s Free Peru party of “stealing votes”, which it denied. Supporters of Mr Castillo have pointed out that his support is particularly strong in rural areas, meaning such an outcome was not suspicious.

The Organization of American States (OAS), which had sent monitors to the election, said it had found no evidence of serious irregularities.

What happens next?

After the vote count reached 100% and had him in the lead, Pedro Castillo changed the description on his Twitter profile to “president-elect”.

He wrote: “A new time has begun. Millions of Peruvians have stood up in the defence of their dignity and justice.”

Supporters of Pedro Castillo celebrate in Lima, Peru, 15 June 2021 (issued 16 June 2021).image copyrightEPA
It could still be days or even weeks until a winner is declared

But Ms Fujimori has not conceded and told her supporters that she would “defend Peru’s democracy”.

The JNE said it would review all the cases which were referred up to it from the lower Special Electoral Juries (JEE). The JNE hearings have started and are expected to take days, or possibly even weeks.

Why does it matter?

With the two candidates representing very different visions for Peru, the winner could define which path the country takes for the next five years.

Mr Castillo is a political newcomer, a left-wing primary school teacher from rural Peru who was little known before the first round of the election.

Some investors have expressed concern about his campaign promise to introduce higher taxes on mining firms in the copper-producing nation. Peru’s currency has been falling and is nearing an all-time low and there are fears that if he is declared the winner, the economy could be destabilised further.

Mr Castillo tried to allay some of those fears on 16 June when he said that he “would guarantee a stable economy, respecting private property and respecting private investment”.

Critics of Ms Fujimori fear that if she were to govern, it would result in a return to power for Peru’s “old guard”.

She has said that she would pardon her father, former President Alberto Fujimori, who is in jail serving a 25-year sentence for crimes including corruption and human rights abuses.

The final outcome of the election will also change Ms Fujimori’s immediate future. She is facing allegations of money laundering and if elected, the proceedings against her would be suspended for the duration of her time in office.

However, analysts say that whoever is declared winner will have to contend with a highly fragmented Congress which is likely to make it hard to pass radical changes.