Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Why Does Peru's President Want Early Elections?

In a speech to Congress last month, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra proposed early presidential and legislative elections next year. // Photo: Peruvian Government.

In a speech before Peru’s Congress on July 28, President Martín Vizcarra proposed cutting short his own term, and those of lawmakers, by a year. He proposed a November referendum, which would ask voters whether to move the elections forward to next year. Why is Vizcarra calling for early elections? Will the referendum get onto the ballot, and will voters approve it? How would early presidential and legislative elections affect the country and its politics?

 

Julio Carrión, associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware: “Peru is navigating turbulent waters. The confrontation between a minority president who is still reasonably popular and a hostile Congress that is deeply unpopular has brought Peruvian politics to the brink on more than one occasion in the past 18 months. In each case, the fujimorista-controlled Congress blinked first. Will it happen again this time? That is likely, because there is no better alternative. Why did Vizcarra call for early elections? It was the least bad of the choices he confronted once it became clear that Congress would approve with significant changes the six proposals for constitutional reform that he submitted to Congress ‘as a matter of confidence.’ Vizcarra threatened that such an alteration would be construed as rejecting the vote of confidence and therefore allow him to call for early congressional elections, but he reconsidered. His initial threat was highly problematic, probably unconstitutional and would have created a protracted legal battle, if not a severe constitutional crisis. Asking Congress to enable a mechanism for early general elections is a face-saving maneuver, but it allows Vizcarra to retain the political initiative. The fujimoristas and apristas in Congress would…”

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