President Martín Vizcarra’s call on 16 September for a vote of confidence (because of congressional reluctance to deal with his proposals for judicial and political reform) has brought a flurry of activity. His ultimatum, which could have resulted in the closure of Congress and new elections, sparked an immediate response.
Of the four proposals to be submitted to a referendum, the one on the reform of the judiciary has now been approved. The proposal to restore the two-chamber Congress is moving swiftly through the Constitutional Commission, and the other two (on the re-election of members of Congress and the obligation of political parties to make public their campaign finances) should soon follow.
Although Ursula Letona, congresswoman for Keiko Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular (FP) had declared that the measures “would limit their agenda of corruption”, she later said she had meant fighting corruption. She also said that not all the proposals need to be approved by referendum. Still, there is disagreement on this as the congresswoman for Nuevo Peru, Marisa Glave, has made clear.
But, importantly, there is as yet no clarity on when the referendums will take place and whether they might still be held at the same time as the congressional and regional elections in October. This would be a tight schedule. But as APRA Congressman Javier Velásquez Quesquén has declared, there is a commitment to having the four issues resolved by plenary by 4 October and that those approved by a margin of 67 votes would then go to referendum.
It therefore seems probable, but not yet certain, that the referendums (if approved by Congress) will take place in December simultaneously with the second round of regional and municipal elections. Much will depend on how the Fujimoristas decide to vote in the plenary. Watch this space.