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  • Peruvian presidential hopeful Veronika Mendoza visits the community of Chazuta, San Martin, during her campaign.

    Peruvian presidential hopeful Veronika Mendoza visits the community of Chazuta, San Martin, during her campaign. | Photo: Twitter / @Vero_Mendoza_F

Published 28 March 2016

Peru's left-wing presidential candidate is surging in the polls and is eying a second round runoff with a former dictator's daughter.

Peru’s left-wing presidential candidate Veronika Mendoza could secure a spot in the presidential runoff to face off against conservative front-runner Keiko Fujimori as a new poll shows she has risen to third place just two weeks ahead of the April 10 election.

RELATED: Peruvians Protest Keiko Fujimori and Electoral 'Dirty War'

According to a new Ipsos poll published in Peru’s La Republica on Monday, the daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori still holds a strong lead in the race with 32 percent, but won’t have enough support to win the election outright, forcing a run-off vote in June.

In second place is Former Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with 16 percent, followed closely by Veronika Mendoza with 12 percent, bringing her ahead of writer Alfredo Barnechea in the polls for the first time in the campaign.

“We’re not going to disappoint,” wrote Mendoza on her Facebook page after the release of the Ipsos poll on Sunday. “We’re going to continue working with the same conviction, we’re going to continue taking our proposals everywhere we can. This is what the people need, knowing how we are going to solve the country’s problems.”

Mendoza, a psychologist, member of Congress, and candidate with the progressive Broad Front coalition, has made impressive gains since the launch of the presidential campaign and become one of the main contenders after barely registering in the polls in the early days of the campaign.

RELATED: Pay for Peru Housewives on Leftist Presidential Candidate's Agenda

But Mendoza’s success hasn’t come without criticism, as political opponents have vilified the left-wing candidate and local media have long sidelined her candidacy in favor of covering more well-known names.

“Every time we rise in the polls, new supposed ‘denunciations’ come at us,” Mendoza wrote on social media on Sunday. The candidate says her campaign has been attacked for being “anti-mining” and “chavista,” and her party has been labeled “terrorists.”

“This campaign of fear and lies is not going to stop the change that Peru is seeking,” Mendoza added.

Mendoza has advocated progressive labor policies, including an increase in the minimum wage, overtime pay, dignified work for youth, compensation for housewives, and an end to arbitrary dismissals that violate workers’ rights.

She has also called for respect for Indigenous rights and guaranteeing legal access to traditional territories for Indigenous communities, reviews of controversial mining projects such as Tia Maria, and improved sexual education in schools and access to contraception.

Many of Mendoza’s  proposals have sparked outrage among conservatives.

According to Ipsos, there are still undecided voters, particularly in rural areas, which could be an opportunity for Mendoza to boost her support, La Republica reported.

Thousands-strong protests against Fujimori, who 49 percent of people who say they will absolutely not vote for her, have been concentrated in urban areas, particularly the capital city Lima in recent weeks.

Protesters argue that Fujimori’s candidacy is illegitimate given accusations of vote-buying. They also reject her bid for president based on her close connection to her father’s dictatorship and refusal to distance herself from his rights-abusing legacy.

In a runoff scenario, Fujimori would defeat Mendoza by a 5 percent margin of 42 percent to 37 percent, according to the Ipsos poll.

Peruvians head to the polls on April 10. With no candidate poised to capture over 50 percent of popular support to secure an outright win, the two top contenders will face off in a run-off vote in June.

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