LIMA: Peruvians say you either love or hate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of their jailed former leader Alberto. Despite his dark legacy she is now one step away from becoming president too.
She will fight a runoff election on June 5 against Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a 77-year-old flute-playing former banker with showbiz connections.
Smiling broadly, the 40-year-old who Peruvians simply call “Keiko” danced for crowds of supporters ahead of her first-round victory on Sunday.
Her campaign rallies are glittering spectacle, but it is her name that most grabs the attention in this South American nation.
If she beats Kuczynski, she will be the first woman to be elected president of Peru – but not the first Fujimori.
She came of age during the violent period of her father Alberto Fujimori’s rule in the 1990s.
Alberto Fujimori, now 77, is in jail for ordering the massacre of people he said were terrorists in 1991 and 1992.
Pursued by the memory of that dark decade, she made a solemn “pledge of honor” to safeguard human rights.
“We want to put violence aside and start to look forward,” she said. “I want to be the president of all Peruvians.”
Her father won the love of many for stamping out the Shining Path, a communist guerrilla group that carried out attacks and kidnappings.
“You either love Keiko or you hate her,” said one voter in Lima, Diego Ramirez, 25, who works in a bank.
“I find it incredible that she could be president. Her father was corrupt and a killer… All she has is her family name.”
But many voters harbor nostalgia for Alberto Fujimori’s rule and want Keiko to follow in his footsteps.
“If Fujimori had continued as president the country would be in a better state now,” said Felizardo Mogollon, a 58-year-old taxi driver in Lima. “Keiko is a woman who will work for security and improve the economy even more.”
On the morning of Sunday’s elections, Fujimori cooked sausages in front of the television cameras as her family sat at the breakfast table.
Alongside her two daughters and husband, US consultant Mark Villanella, sat Keiko Fujimori’s mother, Susana Higuchi.
Higuchi accused Alberto Fujimori’s men of torturing her during his rule. She fled the presidential palace and filed for divorce in 1994.
Keiko sided with her father and took over as first lady of the nation aged 19. She and her mother appear to have reconciled since.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, known to Peruvians simply as “PPK,” has lived a globetrotting life that has left him with a “Yanqui” twang to his accent.
He is a cousin of Franco-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and his American wife Nancy is a cousin of the Hollywood actress Jessica Lange.
PPK cut an eccentric figure on the campaign trail, donning a multicolored woolly hat and playing folk music on the flute.
The mascot for his campaign was a man-sized guinea pig.
Kuczynski has vowed to create jobs by boosting business and growth.