Peru is taking forever to count votes, but the internet wants to know who won now

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After an exasperating three days of waiting for election officials to tally ballots, Peruvians still don't know who won their country’s hotly contested presidential election last Sunday.

To pass the time, many people are creating Facebook memes and Twitter posts to express their frustration with the painfully slow vote count.

For some, election officials, known as ONPE, are like moving at the pace of a sloth.


Others wondered if the tally is taking so long because election officials sent a mule to fetch the ballots from Peru’s Andean highlands.

#ApurateONPE - parece que así es la cosa -

— Diego Dieguito (@dxpanda08) June 7, 2016

To be fair, the presidential election has been one of the toughest to call in the history of Latin America. The candidate leading in in the vote tally, Wall Street veteran Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, currently holds a razor thin 0.2% lead over his rival, Keiko Fujimori.

His supporters are hoping the 77-year-old, known as PPK, can hang in there long enough for the votes to get counted.


Others, meanwhile, hope the final tally will vindicate PPK's long wait and infuse him with new life.


With 98.5% of votes counted, the lead is a narrow 40,000 votes in a country of 18 million registered voters.

Although the counting is nearly done, Fujimori’s camp says the lead is so narrow that they can still win, and so far no one is claiming victory or conceding defeat.


The opposition to Fujimori, who remember her father's electoral shenanigans in 2000, worry that the female candidate's party is digging for hidden votes.


ONPE has said it might need until the weekend to count all the votes, because absentee ballots cast by Peruvians living in Europe and Japan are stilling being flown into Lima for tally. The government has also had trouble collecting ballots in the VRAEM, a remote coca-growing region in eastern Peru where drug violence is prevalent. Some Peruvians have quipped that for ONPE recovering these ballots has been as hard as bringing a satellite back from space.

So far this week several political analysts and statisticians have written articles arguing that PPK's lead is insurmountable, because the areas where votes haven’t yet been tallied tend to be pro-PPK


But Fujimori insists she will not concede defeat until ONPE counts the last vote.

While Peruvians are joking about the issue now on social media, the election is quite serious business for their country. Fujimori is the daughter of a former president who is currently in jail for human rights abuses that included a student massacre. Some Peruvians fear that a victory by another Fujimori would bring back authoritarian rule and set Peru back on human rights issues like women's rights.


The vote returns show that Fujimori does have the backing of half of Peru’s voters, however. So neither candidate would have an overwhelming mandate as president in a divided country.

Fujimori's supporters argue that their candidate is younger, more energetic, smart and has the best plan to fight crime. They say that PPK, a former banker who grew up speaking French at home, is out of touch with the needs of regular Peruvians.


Both sides so far have said they will accept results. But whether they will work together after the election is a different matter.  Fujimori’s party has a solid majority in congress, so if she does end up losing, PPK will have to find a way to collaborate with his opponent on key legislation, including new laws to encourage people in the informal economy to register their businesses.

“They’ve called us corrupt politicians and dictators,” a congresswoman from Fujimori’s party told Peruvian daily El Comercio. “If you want to build bridges, you have to tone down your language”


Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.

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