Political reforms move ahead, slowly

29 June 2019

The slow and arduous process of legislating the government’s proposals for political reform moved ahead last week with the approval by the congressional constitution commission of various articles of the legislative bill known as 4188.

The commission debated and approved Articles 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18. Article 15 proved to be the most contentious. This relates to the circumstances in which parties may join together to form alliances. The executive wanted only alliances between political parties, but a number of congressmen wanted to hold out the possibility of alliances between parties and regional movements. In the end, the executive’s position prevailed.

Article 13 referred to the necessity to maintain electoral alliances over the whole period for which they were voted in. Article 16 related to the ability of recognised regional movements to merge and form political parties. Article 17 establishes the rules governing the registration of regional movements. Article 18 concerns the affiliation of supporters to a political organisation.

Interviewed by La República on 26 June, Martín Tanaka, a member of the commission appointed to design reforms, argued that the commission had established an “intense and serious work dynamic”. But, he said, the most controversial items of the overall reform package are yet to be debated and approved. These included the rules governing party primaries (especially whether these should be open to all voters) and the issue of removing decisions on parliamentary immunities away from the legislature itself and putting it in the hands of the Supreme Court.

The most recent threat by President Vizcarra to dissolve the present Congress followed moves by the opposition fujimoristas on the constitutional commission to reject this second proposal.

The Congress faces a tight deadline if it is to pass all the reforms by July 20, the date set by the president for their completion. What will happen if the commission prevaricates on certain reforms or seeks to transform their content remains unclear.

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