Ministerial crisis grips Peru
24 March 2014
On February 24, Prime Minister César Villanueva, resigned. The move was triggered by First Lady Nadine Heredia’s denial that there would be any debate over the minimum wage. Finance Minister Luis Miguel Castilla agreed with Heredia, and Villanueva left saying he could not remain in post if there were ‘parallel powers’.
A new cabinet was sworn in the same day with Housing Minister René Cornejo as the new prime minister. The widespread public perception that it is Heredia who calls the shots in government led to the cabinet being summoned before Congress. On Friday March 14, Cornejo presented his ministerial plan of action, but the debate was dominated by questions about the role played by Heredia. In two rounds of voting, the cabinet failed to win a vote of confidence and the session had to be suspended late that night without a resolution.
Tension reigned over the following weekend because a third vote of no confidence would have triggered a major political crisis, since the 1993 Constitution stipulates that in such cases the president would be entitled to call for fresh congressional elections. Following arm-twisting among congressmen, the cabinet finally won a vote of confidence. Debate over the role Heredia plays in government continues, while the Cornejo team of ministers has got off to a very rocky start.