image copyrightAFPimage captionEarly results show a very close race between political newcomer Pedro Castillo and household name Keiko Fujimori

Right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori has a razor-thin lead over left-wing Pedro Castillo in Peru's presidential election, partial results show.

With more than 80% of votes counted, Ms Fujimori had a lead of 2.4 percentage points over newcomer Mr Castillo.

Her early lead has been narrowing as votes come in from rural area, where support for Mr Castillo is strong.

This is Peru's most polarised election in recent history, and both candidates have called for calm during the count.

The new president will be taking on a country in crisis as Peru struggles with a recession and the highest coronavirus death rate per capita in the world.

  • Peru on edge ahead of unpredictable run-off vote
  • Peru more than doubles Covid deaths after review
  • Guerrillas kill 16, including children ahead of Peru election

Peruvians have had years of political turbulence, with four presidents in the past three years. In November, it had three different leaders in less than a week. Seven of the country's last 10 leaders have either been convicted of or investigated for corruption.

Peru at a glance

  • The country has a population of about 32 million
  • Inequality remains high, especially between those who live in urban and rural areas
  • The pandemic has hit it hard, and nearly a third of its people are now in poverty
  • It has been through a series of political crises in recent years and, last November, it was led by three presidents within the space of a week

Sources: World Bank, CIA Factbook

Household name v political newcomer

Keiko Fujimori, 46, is the leader of the right-win Popular Force party and a household name in Peru. As well as a former member of congress, she was the runner-up in the 2011 and 2016 presidential election run-offs.

She is also the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses. She has said that if she is elected, she will pardon her father.

There have been scenes of celebrations outside her party's headquarters in the capital, Lima. However electoral officials have said the early results reflect votes from urban areas, where she is most popular.

"What we have to look for is the unity of all Peruvians. That is why I ask both groups for calm, patience, peace, to those who voted and didn't vote for us," Ms Fujimori said.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionSupporters of Keiko Fujimori celebrated early results that showed her with a narrow lead

Pedro Castillo, 51, is a relatively new face on the political stage, and was the unexpected winner in the first round vote in April.

An elementary school teacher, he is easily recognisable by his cowboy hat and oversized pencil that he campaigns with – the symbol of his Free Peru party. He is the son of small-scale farmers and has widespread support in regional areas.

image copyrightReutersimage captionPedro Castillo waves to supporters in the town of Tacabamba, as he waits for votes to be counted

An earlier exit poll by Ipsos Peru initially put Mr Castillo in the lead by just 0.4 percentage points. It sent his supporters into the streets yelling "we won" in the town of Tacabamba, which is close to the village he grew up in and where he is waiting for the results.

Mr Castillo also called for Peruvians to remain calm as the votes continue to be counted.

"We trust the will of the people and hope that today in this democratic festival, we can have calm and patience. Long live Peru," he told supporters from a balcony, speaking through a loudspeaker.