Party leader meeting gives go-ahead to political reform
15 March 2015
On March 4, the Peruvian government and representatives from 15 political parties initialed an agreement to bring reforms to aspects of the country’s party and electoral systems. It was the second get-together of party leaders since the New Year, and the only party not to send a representative was Alan García’s APRA. Fuerza Popular, the Fujimorista party which had refused to attend the first meeting, decided to be present at the second.
Among the issues agreed was the need to sanction both parties and individuals when the latter are found guilty of corrupt activities. Other issues discussed in the March 4 meeting included measures to prevent elected politicians hopping from one party to another, a practice known as ‘transfuguismo’, changes to the ways in which party politics are financed, and an end to the re-election of municipal mayors and regional presidents.
Moves were also discussed to prevent people standing as candidates with antecedents of drug trafficking, money laundering or terrorism. In line with legislation subsequently passed on March 13, where a congressman is held guilty of these crimes, he or she will lose his or her seat in Congress, with the seat remaining empty.
Another issue that came up was the desirability of introducing a system of gender alternation for representatives to ensure greater gender balance in elective office.
It remains to be seen how many or when all these recommendations will be acted on. However, on March 5 Congress ratified a constitutional reform prohibiting the immediate re-election of mayors and regional presidents. This appears to be of immediate effect, preventing for example, the likes of Luis Castañeda Lossio standing again for mayor of Lima in 2018.The Association of Municipalities of Peru (AMPE) opposed the measure, arguing that preventing re-election would exacerbate inexperience in local government.
Congress has also now approved a bill that will make it harder for mayors and regional presidents to be recalled. In many case, the losers in elections have used recall referendums to topple those that emerged victorious. In future, recall referendums will only take place after three years have passed since a candidate was first elected. In 2013, those who lost out in the 2012 elections for mayor of Lima used the recall referendum to try to get rid of Susana Villarán. Now those seeking to stage a recall will also need to receive the prior approval of the electoral authorities.