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Presidential hopefuls heading for runoff

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s leading presidential candidates are headed for a November runoff, as a retired general who had a commanding lead in the polls failed to win 50 percent of the vote.

With 95 percent of the polling stations reporting Monday, preliminary results show Otto Perez Molina of the Patriot Party with 36 percent support Monday, followed by businessmen Manuel Baldizon with 24 percent and Eduardo Suger with 16 percent.

“We are going to double our efforts, now that we are in the second round,” Mr. Perez said after learning he would be at least in the runoff.

In pre-election polls, Mr. Perez, who promised to get tough on Guatemala’s rampant crime, had the support of up to 48 percent of voters. Mr. Baldizon had 18 percent, and Mr. Suger 10 percent.

All are right-leaning. Any candidate needed more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid the Nov. 6 runoff.

But Mr. Perez garnered far less, as Mr. Baldizon’s support increased in the weeks leading up to the election.

People also were embarrassed to say they would vote for Mr. Baldizon, according to former Foreign Minister Edgar Gutierrez, who heads a political think tank in Guatemala.

Mr. Baldizon, a tycoon-turned-political populist, made many promises that some considered outlandish, including that he would take Guatemala’s soccer team to the World Cup.

But other promises were appealing in a country with rampant poverty, including a pledge to boost salaries and social programs, to employ the death penalty, now rarely used, and to televise executions.

Mr. Gutierrez said that greater support than expected for Mr. Suger also cut into Mr. Perez’s lead, but that those votes will likely go to Mr. Perez in the runoff.