Peru is trapped in a marked deterioration of its political class, unable to provide answers and connect with a fractured country that has seen 48 people die in street riots since Dec. 7, several experts agree.
Although the rejected proposal to bring forward the general election to this year still has a chance with the review to be presented to Congress on Monday, some political scientists are skeptical that progress will be achieved.
“This is a toxic Congress: it is rejected by 88% of the population, according to polls; it is branded by (the civil association) Proética as the most corrupt institution, it is the most discredited Legislature in the region in the Latinobarómetro,” he recalled to AFP Alonso Cárdenas, of the London School of Economics.
“Congress, like almost the entire political class in Peru, lives with its back to the country, it doesn’t understand it,” added Roger Santa Cruz, of the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya Jesuit University in Lima.
In the early hours of Saturday, after more than seven hours of debate with reprimands, Parliament rejected the proposal by Hernando Guerra García, of the Fuerza Popular (FP) party, so that the elections no longer take place in April 2024, as planned , but in October of this year, so that the president Dina Boluarte and the parliamentarians will leave next December.
The proposal of Guerra García, who according to his opponents was following the orders of the leader of the FP, Keiko Fujimori, was at the same time a response to Boluarte, who on Friday called for early elections to get out of the “quagmire”.
The role of Keiko Fujimori
According to Santa Cruz, Fujimori’s rivals’ doubts are reasonable: “The popular force has bases all over the country. It has more capacity for a short campaign. Its thing is political calculation,” he said.
The Renovación Popular and Avanza País parties, which share with Fujimorismo the rightmost space in the ideological spectrum of Congress, separated from their ally and swept away the project of Guerra García.
“The alliance that supports Boluarte is cracking,” warned Cárdenas.
The current president was vice-president of Pedro Castillo’s left-wing Peru Libre party, but since the removal of the former president, who on December 7 sought to close Parliament and govern by decree, his support rests on conservative caucuses.
Even the left bears its share of responsibility for this lack of political agreement to get out of the crisis, because it conditions its vote on the progress of the elections in a referendum for a Constituent Assembly, possibility rejected by large sectors of power.
“The left knows that its proposal will never have the support of the right,” said Cárdenas, for whom the issue is used as a pretext to negotiate minor benefits.
“These are quite mediocre reasons (on both sides). Not ideological, nor of a model of the country. They are questions like holding back the accusations for a few more months”, he added.
Experts have also highlighted among the congressional weaknesses current, the fact that it is divided into more than ten political forces, as well as independent parliamentarians, without strong leadership or personalities that generate consensus.
Therefore, according to Cárdenas and Santa Cruz, The eventual resignation of Boluarte would not necessarily ease tensions because there have not emerged figures of “democratic personalities, linked to human rights, arrangers, with experience” as happened after the departure of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), Valentín Paniagua or Francisco Sagasti in 2020 after the fall of the government of Martín Vizcarra ( 2018-2020).
Peru has had six presidents since 2018, from the right, from the center, from the left. A fire to which the political class contributes more fire than water and in which Congress seems to limit its function in comparison with the Executive.
It all started in 2016 with president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who despite being right-wing, was under fire from the Fujimori bench until 2018, when he managed to remove him for defeating their leader, Keiko Fujimori.
His replacement, Martín Vizcarra, met the same fate, and his congressional-mandated successor, Manuel Merino, was forced out in 2020 after a five-day violent riot in the streets of Lima.
The story continued with Castillo, who has declared war on Congress which ended with his dismissal, also produced after trying to close the Legislative. That’s where the story of Boluarte began.
In the midst of the current convulsion, toughest in the relegated South Andean, there is no guarantee that better authorities will emerge from the 2023 or 2024 elections, concluded both political scientists.
“The political solution is in a political reform, but these politicians have to make that reform,” Cárdenas joked.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.