Politics 11-10-2018

What is behind the constitutional reforms in Peru?

President Martín Vizcarra called a referendum on December 9 to ratify the constitutional reforms promoted by his Executive and approved with modifications by the Congress, with the aim of fighting corruption. "The controversy has just started," summed up Hernán Chaparro, head of opinion studies at the Institute of Peruvian Studies.

The reforms are aimed at ending the corruption that has plagued the Andean country. The Government of Vizcarra presented them after a plot of exchange of favors between judges, politicians and businessmen came to light in the middle of the year . At that time "he put his finger on the sore," said Chucarro.

"The political discontent of all citizens [is high], the level of tolerance reached its limit," he said.

Both the Congress and the Judiciary have very low legitimacy before citizens. According to Chaparro, justice has an approval of between 10% and 12%, and Congress between 7 and 8%.

"In Peru there is a clear awareness of a lot of injustice [...] People have an equation in their heads: democracy and equity, democracy and justice," Chaparro said.

The fight against corruption is one of the cornerstones of Vizcarra's speech since he took office in March, following the resignation of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynsky. The reforms of the political and judicial system imply the immediate re-election of congressmen, the control of the financing of the political parties, the reform of the body that appoints judges and prosecutors in Peru, and the return to the bicamerality of the Legislative Power.

In that scenario, the leader of the Peruvian Popular Force, Keiko Fujimori, was detained with preventive detention for 10 days. The daughter of dictator Alberto Fujimori is investigated for illegal financing of the 2011 campaign.

Fujimori's arrest came after the president asked for a referendum and stated that the executive agreed and was going to support all the approved reforms, except for the return to bicamerality; considers that its essence has been changed by Congress.

The arguments put forward by the president are two, summarized Chaparro. Vizcarra believes that "the balance is broken in the Peruvian Constitution between Parliament, Congress, and Executive, giving more power to Parliament than it should in relation to the Executive."

At the same time, he opined that "if you vote for the no to the bicamerality, what will happen is that the current congressmen will face the current Congress where there would be no bicaramility, and therefore, they would not be elected," he added. Chaparro

In turn, in the modifications made by the Congress, the proposal referring to gender quotas was not incorporated; issue that Vizcarra also repudiates.

The Peruvian analyst opined that Vizcarra has "a lot of accumulated political capital"; He noted that he has more than 60% approval, a figure that is reflected in the street: "every time he has a public appearance, people are very expressive and support him," he said.

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