Transparencia and its 32 proposals

27 August 2016

With the elections over, the new government installed, and a cabinet recently approved by the Congress, it is time to think once again about reforms to the electoral system to avoid the sort of problems that emerged over the course of 2016. Or so think those who would like the system of elections to work better in the interests of improving the quality of democracy.

Transparencia, an NGO that has long sought to promote Peru’s democratic institutions and render its government more accountable to those who elect it, has urged the president of Congress, Luz Salgado, to implement a number of recommendations. With sub-national elections (municipal and regional) due in 2018, Transparencia argues that electoral reform should be a priority for 2017.

The list of 32 proposals includes reforms to the judicial and administrative systems as well as to the electoral system. They were first published on Transparencia’s website last December.

Among these is the suggestion that the Congress should be elected coincidentally with the second round of presidential voting. According to Allan Wagner, the president of Transparencia, such a “bold” reform would lead to a parliament that better reflecting the composition of the country. It is unclear, however, what would happen if a president was elected outright (as was Alberto Fujimori in 1995) on the first vote. It might mean, therefore, separating out the presidential and parliamentary elections, as is the case in Colombia.

Other suggestions include beefing up the rules concerning the ineligibility of certain persons to run for elective office (for instance, those convicted of terrorist crimes or held guilty of corruption) and getting rid of the system of preferential voting where by candidates contend for voting within party lists. Ending the preferential vote and forcing voters to choose a party, it is thought, would help strengthen party identities and programmes.

Transparencia now plans to canvass its proposals among leaders of the various parties represented in Congress and with the president of the Council of Ministers. It remains to be seen whether the Fujimorista majority in Congress will warm to these ideas. In the past, Congress has singularly failed to accept proposals for reform. The Fujimoristas will have the final word.

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