As we went to press the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) had yet to rule on the case brought by the former president of Congress, Pedro Olaechea, to declare President Martín Vizcarra’s dissolution of Congress on 30 September unconstitutional. However, Carlos Ramos, the TC member in charge of the case, has announced that he favoured its being overturned. His view will probably carry weight with the other six TC members.
Back in September, Vizcarra had argued that Congress had twice refused a vote of confidence in the cabinet and that therefore, in line with Article 134, it was within his power to dissolve the legislature. Olaechea had argued that Vizcarra had overreached his prerogatives.
Arguably, this has been the most serious constitutional clash which the TC has ever had to adjudicate. If rejected, it would reinforce Vizcarra’s position personally while also clearing the way for the enactment of serious political and judicial reforms by the new Congress to be elected in two weeks on 27 January. It would represent a further reverse for Fuerza Popular (FP) which enjoyed an absolute majority in the dissolved Congress but which probably will achieve a much reduced representation in the new one.
A verdict that upheld Olaechea’s position could block the election at a point in which campaigning is well under way.
Whether or not the new Congress will be much better than its predecessor remains an open (and much-asked) question. A proliferation of parties have put forward candidates, but many may not pass the 5% barrier to achieve representation in Congress.
Several former FP members have switched to other parties, notably to Solidaridad Nacional, the right-wing party founded and led by former Lima mayor Luis Castañeda Lossio.
The campaign so far, especially on the right, has been characterised by racism, insults and fake news. For more detail, see here.