Shakespearean political drama unfolds in Peru: Vizcarra v the fujimoristas

10 August 2019

As in any good drama, beneath the main plot in Peruvian politics there are subplots playing out, each affecting the main plot and in themselves affected by it. Shakespeare could have crafted a fine play out of it all.

The main plot concerns the ongoing strife between president and Congress, the key theme ever since the 2016 elections yielded an absolute majority for the opposition fujimorista party, Fuerza Popular. With the removal of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from the presidency last year, the drama became ever starker with President Martín Vizcarra lacking any organised support base in the legislature. His only recourse has been to appeal to public opinion which, if not exactly enraptured by his performance as head of state, perceives the members of the present Congress as uniquely awful.

In last week’s Ipsos poll, conducted for El Comercio and América TV, 75% of those consulted said they approved of Vizcarra’s move to bring forward elections and 77% said they would vote for this in the event of a referendum.

But Vizcarra’s appeal to voters (which has once again improved his popularity ratings) appears to have done little to appease or tame the recalcitrant members of Congress, especially those on the Fujimorista benches. A meeting was held on 5 August between top fujimoristas and Prime Minister Salvador del Solar, but the outcome was still under wraps as we went to press.

In a clear pointer to the future, the congressional constitution committee will continue to be controlled by Fuerza Popular and its allies. It will have eight members on the committee, while each of the other parties represented in Congress will have only one. It is this committee which will initially debate Vizcarra’s referendum proposal. An attempt by Nuevo Perú to widen the membership of the committee to ensure greater pluralism was voted down by the plenary on 6 August.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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