'Que se vayan todos'

7 September 2019

‘Let’s get rid of them all’. Loosely translated, this is the headline message of a huge march in Lima and other cities on 5 September, designed to register public protest at the delaying tactics deployed by the congressional majority in approving President Martin Vizcarra’s proposals for bringing forward elections.

Only two days earlier, Vizcarra and Pedro Olaechea, the president of Congress, had met to discuss prompt passage of the president’s initiative, first announced in his Independence Day speech on 28 July. Olaechea had given assurances that the proposal would be granted due priority.

But within hours of the meeting, the fujimorista opposition in Congress, along with its allies, made clear that approval would be drawn out as long as possible, while some, including the Aprista deputy Mauricio Mulder, argued the president’s proposals should simply be filed away (archivado).

At the same time, various fujimoristas came out with proposals designed to accentuate tensions, including one to create a commission to appoint six new members of the Constitutional Tribunal. The TC would have the final word if Congress decides to challenge the constitutionality of an attempt by Vizcarra to dissolve parliament by means of posing a vote of confidence.

Some members also threatened to launch an investigation into those polling agencies which publish figures suggesting that a majority would like to see the closure of Congress, one even challenging the legality of the president’s speech on 28 July.

Once again, deadlock looms as the clock permitting elections to be held next year ticks. The fujimoristas know that, if they can hold out, the whole scheme may be scuppered.

The demonstrations in Lima and elsewhere were designed to show that public opinion is against Congress and in favour of bringing forward elections, both for the presidency and the legislature, to next April, with no possibility of re-election. Thousands marched through central Lima, as they did in Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cuzco, Huaraz. Trujillo, Puno, Huancayo, Ica and other urban centres.

Opinion polls still suggest that the voting public has no sympathy with the tactics being employed by the congressional majority which dominates the constitutional committee that has to approve the bringing forward of elections in the first instance. According to the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos last month, no less than 87% of voters would like to see the back of the present Congress.

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