While Covid-19 and its effects may hold public attention over the coming weeks, looking ahead Peru will see preparations for the 2021 elections happening a long time before they actually take place. While the government’s legislative agenda will be guided by the need to have solid rules in place well before next year, those of key political figures will be guided by the struggle for power and influence for the longer term.
The first round of elections will be in April 2021, with an almost inevitable second round probably in early June. President Martín Vizcarra will hand over executive authority to a new president on 28 July 2021, while a new Congress will take office a few days before that.
Despite allegations to the contrary, there are few indications that Vizcarra will try to engineer things to enable him to run for a second term.
This coming week, the 130 members of Congress voted in on 26 January will take their seats. For the parties and other groupings represented within it the challenge will be how to use the Congress to maximum advantage in winning public support over the coming months.
This may not just be by doing the executive’s bidding in passing judicial and political reforms.
But the struggle will also be not just between parties but within them, as rivalries for presidential nominations gain momentum. Few are the parties represented in the new Congress in which such rivalries do not exist.
Parties will examine the political reforms presented to them by the executive with a view to their own particular interests. An area where this is already becoming clear is the proposal to hold open primaries to select presidential candidates. Opening up to democratic selection may prove unacceptably risky for many.
The next twelve months could see Peru’s politics at their most fractious. The struggle for power may not be that edifying but, if past experience is anything to go by, the gloves will soon come off and the fighting begin.