Factors of the Political Crisis in Peru
The political crisis in Peru is an ongoing event that first came about in 2017 and still needs to resolve. Corruption within the country’s government spearheaded discontent among Peruvians and planted the seed for the continued crisis in Peru. The crisis itself has become more complex as it has developed over the years. Thus, the process of a resolution has seemingly become just as difficult to navigate. Here are a few factors that helped create the crisis and continue to perpetuate the political issues surrounding it.

The New President

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won his political position by a very slim margin in a race against Keiko Fujimori in the 2016 election. His political party was only able to secure a small portion of seats within Peru’s Congress. Naturally, it faced strong opposition in many different facets. President Kuczynski’s political opponents and opposers portrayed him as a lobbyist that served as a political threat to Peru’s government. As a result, there were some questions surrounding his presidency and its legitimacy from the very beginning.

The Opposing Party

The political alliance behind Keiko Fujimori is the Popular Force Party. Following her electoral defeat, the Popular Force Party slowly began to pick away at its opposition using an obstructionist strategy. The party continuously targeted cabinet members of their opposition in hopes of ousting them and succeeded in several instances, warping the political landscape of Peru and deepening its government corruption. This strategy ultimately led to a dismantling of the cabinet and a continuous shuffling of members.

Suspicion of Corruption

Under the suspicion of corrupt government practices, the Peruvian Congress ousted President Kuczynski with a vote of no-confidence very early on in September 2017. This vote followed a sort of dare from the President. It forced out his second education minister and gave him a limited time span of three days to swear in a new Cabinet. Following the vote that ousted him, Congress tried the President in a congressional impeachment hearing in December 2017. This happened when he testified on a matter of suspected corruption. The particular incident that the hearing discussed was his involvement in receiving payments from one of his businesses from Odebrecht, a well-known Brazilian construction firm.

The vote following the deliberation of Congress did not result in his impeachment. However, a new scandal arose. It became publicly known that the President negotiated with former President Alberto Fujimori’s son to keep his position in power. These rumors of negotiations between the two sparked unrest and distrust among Peruvian citizens because of the public view of Fujimori. In exchange for the safety of his position, Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori for crimes against humanity and corruption, despite his 25-year prison sentence that the public largely supported.

Release of Former Dictator

The release of former dictator Fujimori sparked intense indignation and dissatisfaction among Peruvians. Arguably, this was the pivotal point marking the beginning of the political crisis in Peru. The courts overturned the pardon that President Kuczynski performed and he eventually resigned, consequently pushing Vice President Vizcarra into the presidency. He wasted no time in pushing an anti-corruption campaign in an attempt to quell protests and civil discord among Peruvians. However, the Popular Force Party still attempts to block these proposed anti-corruption reforms.

Dismantling of Congress

The past few years have been key in determining the political state of Peru, and it remains a delicate one. As of October 2019, President Vizcarra dissolved Congress after facing opposition. This dismantling of Congress has plunged Peru into a constitutional crisis which it must address immediately. The political crisis in Peru does not affect just corruption levels or prominent figures defeating their opposition. Instead, it affects Peruvians in ways they may not even be fully aware of. It primarily stifles public policy progression due to legislative gridlock. This means that no anti-corruption reforms or efforts can come to fruition because of the persistent corruption stalling and dismantling Peru’s politics. Direct legislation cannot pass because of this. For instance, there are necessary reconstruction efforts to address damages from detrimental coastal flooding that occurred in 2017. The Peruvian economy originally experienced a boom following its democratic transition. However, the growth has slowed substantially in the midst of this crisis.

Solving the Political Crisis

Although the situation may seem bleak, it is not an unfixable issue. The political crisis in Peru requires cooperation mainly from its primary political parties. The days of ousting the opposition in a never-ending battle for power must end. In addition, a united front must form against corruption. However, this may not be easy. Such a united front would require the major political parties in Peru. The parties have to abstain from their corrupt practices long enough to negotiate a new way of governance. This will help avoid the power struggles that have brought political turmoil upon the nation. The international community must provide support for Peruvians in this time of crisis. Additionally, it should help to rebuild the once successful democratic institution that existed within Peru. It can accomplish this largely by acting as mediators between parties and pushing for compromise and cooperation.

The government has not completely ignored the political crisis in Peru. Rather, the country has made a decent amount of progress in the past two decades by strengthening its economy, lowering its poverty rates and decreasing the amount of income inequality present. The strengthening of the political institutions and the laws surrounding them will ultimately help Peru the most. Once Peru’s institutions are able to regain legitimacy and close the loopholes that allow political corruption to thrive, the country will hopefully be able to feel a sense of normalcy. Domestic and international actors’ aid in tackling corruption head-on will combat the political crisis in Peru. In addition, forming a sense of unity should help the country attain stability.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr