Kuczynski faces challenging times

22 January 2017

President Kuczynski’s honeymoon seems to have been fleeting; having passed the first 100 days in office, he is facing falling popularity ratings and the perception that his is government is fundamentally weak. According to a Datum poll taken in early January and published last week in Gestión, his popularity has fallen eight points from 53% in December to 45% in January, and his disapproval rating is now slightly higher than that of approval. Much of this is due to the fact that, despite reasonably high growth rates in the last year to November, few have seen any improvement in their economic situation. Nor does there seem to be much success in the fight against corruption and delinquency.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe the government is weak and 57% think that it takes too long to make decisions. In spite of this, the president’s main rival, Keiko Fujimori, has also seen her public support slip; more than half (55%) do not approve of her or her politics. This is particularly noticeable in the areas like the north of the country and in the Amazon region where she had the highest support in the last election. Verónika Mendoza, on the other hand, has seen her popularity rise by eight points (to 32%), despite there being a good deal of disarray in the Frente Amplio.

In the 90-day period for which special powers were granted to the executive, 112 decrees were signed covering security, health, justice, environment, and corruption amongst others. Some of these decrees will bring, however, more debate in Congress and in some cases renewed confrontation. One of the problematic topics is that of illegal mining. Two former ministers and the former vice-minister for intercultural affairs have noted that the new decrees threaten to weaken environmental protection in the Amazon and, they say, these are little more than concessions to the illegal mining lobby.

Another issue that promises to become problematic are the decrees relating to health. The Fujimoristas argue that they did not delegate powers in this area, and there is opposition to the move to put the cancer hospital under the control of the health ministry. There is also some discussion taking place on the need for an integrated health service. At the moment free healthcare only covers the poorest, and the idea of scaling it up is being looked into. There is a widespread belief the Health Minister Patricia García could be the next victim of the Fujimorista majority in Congress, which successfully removed Education Minister Jaime Saavedra last month.

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