In a first, Peruvians voted in a legislative election held separately from a presidential ballot. President Martin Vizcarra dissolved the legislature last year, amid an anti-corruption campaign. Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, spoke with CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg about the vote and what it means for Peru going forward.
Comments by Michael Shifter:
“If president Vizcarra had one objective, it was to diminish Popular Force, the party of Keiko Fujimori, which had been such an obstacle in his efforts to try to pursue an anti-corruption agenda. Popular Force will still be in the new congress, but they will be much weaker than they were before. That is good for Vizcarra.”
“I don’t think Keiko Fujimori has given up on being president, but I think she is going to have a very hard time, it is going to be a very uphill battle for her. Her party and herself have been discredited, there are serious corruption charges. They are in a weak position, I think it is highly unlikely that she’ll achieve her objective of being president of Peru.”
“Last week the highest court in Peru reaffirmed Vizcarra’s decision [of dissolving congress]. There was some debate about it, some scholars thought it was constitutional, others had more doubts about it, but as a political move, it was good for him. This offers an opportunity. Now, this is a big test for Vizcarra, to see if he can get through and work with new parties, more centrist parties, see if they are willing to cooperate with him, and pursue his agenda.”
“We’ll have to see exactly who is going to be in congress. We know the parties already, but we have to see who the individuals are and whether they want to commit to this anti-corruption agenda and work with Vizcarra, or whether they are going to be more focused on positioning themselves for the elections in 2021, which I think is a real risk.”
“Peru has all the characteristics that other Latin American countries [that have seen mass protests in the last year] have. In this case, they had an escape valve which was this election that Vizcarra called for a new assembly. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see protests. There is a lot of disgust with the political system, there is a lot of inequality, the rate of growth is slowing… So it wouldn’t be surprising to see some unrest, it is a country with a history of unrest, but so far has been contained and manageable.”