Congress rejects electoral reform proposals

7 May 2017

The congressional working group which has been revising proposals for electoral reform has rejected the suggestion that the required number of signatures for party registration should be lowered from 4% of the total electorate to 1%. This flies in the face of recommendations made by the electoral authorities themselves and backed by NGOs like Transparencia.

The pro-Fujimori majority on the committee thus ruled out a proposal which would have made it easier for small parties to take part in elections. Under the present rules, parties need to raise 700,000 signatures to register a party. The Jurado Nacional de Elecciones had suggested reducing this to 1%, or around 175,000 signatures. In the past, parties (and in particular the pro-Fujimori parties) have been accused of mass-falsification of signatures. The JNE considered that barriers to entry to parties should be reduced but that they would need to reach a certain proportion of the vote (the so-called valla) to secure representation.

A number of parties are currently involved in campaigns to acquire sufficient signatures to participate in elections.

The law governing the activities of political parties was passed in 2003, but a series of amendments are under consideration to help boost the party system in Peru. In spite of the 2003 law, which aimed to bolster a system of strong, democratic parties, Peru is one of the Latin American countries with the weakest and least democratic systems. Most of Peru’s parties are simply electoral vehicles for particular politicians. They lack any real grounding in society and operate as personal fiefdoms of their leaders.

The committee also turned down suggestions from the electoral authorities that companies should be able to make contributions to the funding of political parties. The ways in which parties are funded in Peru are far from transparent, including individual contributions. Also the system by which electoral expenses are regulated is poorly administered.

A number of parties, most notably the pro-Fujimorista majority party, Fuerza Popular (FP), are widely believed to have received campaign contributions from sources of dubious legality. FP’s general secretary and main funding manager in last year’s elections, Joaquín Ramírez, appeared on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of suspected money launderers.

The committee is due to submit a report outlining its final recommendations

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