Vizcarra became president because of Kuczynski’s resignation over corruption allegations in March 2018. Prior to being vice-president, he was governor of Moquegua district where he had some success in easing relations between Anglo American and communities near to Anglo’s projected mine at Quellaveco.
As president, like his predecessor, he found himself in constant battle with the opposition party, Fuerza Popular with its absolute majority in the Congress. Fuerza Popular is a right-wing party founded to project the presidential ambitions of Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).
Parliamentary obstructionism led Vizcarra to call a referendum on political reforms in December 2018, approved by a wide margin. However, Fuerza Popular and its allies (principally APRA) sought to sabotage these reforms. In July 2019, Vizcarra called for the 2021 elections to be brought forward by a year. However, continued obstruction on this and other issues led to Vizcarra using his presidential prerogative (Congress having denied a vote of confidence in the cabinet on two separate occasions in a single parliamentary term) in dissolving parliament in September 2019 and calling fresh congressional elections for January 2020.
In these elections, Fuerza Popular suffered a serious defeat, with a majority of those new members of Congress aligning themselves with Vizcarra’s judicial and political reform plans. However, implementation of that agenda was interrupted in March 2020 by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru. Responding to this Vizcarra passed emergency legislation that concentrated power further in the hands of the executive for the duration of the crisis.
Peru faces general elections (for the presidency and Congress) scheduled for April 2021, with a likely second round in May or June. A new president will take office on 28 July 28, 2021, the bicentennial of Peru’s independence in 1821. Vizcarra has denied any intention of changing the rules to enable him to stand.
Lord Brenan QC
Ann Clwyd MP
Linda Fabiani MSP
Reverend Ed O'Connell
Professor William Rowe
Rosemary Thorp CBE
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