Peru is a country located in the region of South America. Peru is ruled by President Martín Vizcarra, a former vice president who took over when the representative was forced to step down as a result of a huge bout. Vizcarra has fought the corruption and is popular with voters. After an infected tug of war with the opposition, he announced a new election to Congress. It was held in January 2020 and the result gave the president more leeway.
Martín Vizcarra took over the presidential post in March 2018, after the representative Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was forced out after less than two years. Kuczynski was allowed to go as a result of the white-branched scandal surrounding the Brazilian construction group Odebrecht (see below).
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Peru, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Vizcarra is an engineer and lacks party affiliation. He has previously been governor and transport minister. As the first Vice President and Ambassador to Canada, he remained relatively anonymous until he suddenly took over the helm as Head of State and Government. As President, he has invested heavily in trying to bring about changes that will prevent corruption. He initiated a referendum in December 2018 on political and judicial reforms, and was mainly supported by his proposals (see Calendar).
However, the situation became increasingly locked between Vizcarra and the Congress, where the opposition party Popular Force (FP) had its own majority. In July 2019, the president surprised by proposing that the next presidential and congressional elections be prematurely announced. He himself would then be unable to stand for re-election. But Congress refused to agree to the proposal (see Calendar).
New election to Congress
Two months later, Vizcarra decided to dissolve the Congress and announce new elections for it. Congressmen tried to stop him: they voted to shut down the president for twelve months and appointed Vice President Mercedes Aráoz as acting president. But Aráoz resigned the following day since military and police leaders, as well as thousands of protesters on the streets, expressed their support for Vizcarra. The election, which was held in January 2020, meant a stinging defeat for the formerly dominant FP, which collapsed from 73 to 12 seats. A total of ten parties got their seats in Congress and none of them has a clear dominance. The result could make it easier for Vizcarra to push through anti-corruption reforms halted by the FP in the last congress. The new congressmen who are now elected will sit out the regular term of office, until April 2021.
In the spring of 2020, everything came to revolve around the corona pandemic, in Peru as well as in most of the world. Strict quarantine rules were introduced at an early stage, but despite this, the virus spread rapidly. Police and military were deployed to try to ensure compliance. This led to many deaths among police officers. Not least in the countryside and among street vendors in the cities, many saw themselves forced to ignore the restrictions of movement, in order to provide for themselves at all.
At the same time, the powerful shutdown led to the economy shrinking by more than 40 percent in April alone, and President Martín Vizcarra spoke of the worst crisis in Peru’s history. In May, operations were resumed, among other things, in the important mining industry.
By mid-June, more than 230,000 corona cases had been reported in Peru and more than 6,500 had been confirmed dead in covid-19.
Peru worst hit by corruption scandal
The corruption scandal surrounding Odebrecht and the Brazilian oil company Petrobras has had repercussions in most Latin American countries, but Peru has been shaken by more than any other country other than Brazil itself. In addition to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the three presidents before him have also been accused of involvement in the scandal, as is FP leader Keiko Fujimori. High-ranking Odebrecht executives have testified that bribes have been paid to Peruvian politicians since 2001.
Kuzcynski is in custody and Keiko Fujimori is awaiting trial even though she was released from custody. Of the three previous presidents, Ollanta Humala has been charged (see Calendar), Alan García committed suicide to avoid being arrested (see here) and Alejandro Toledo arrested in the US since he was requested to be extradited (see here).
In the last presidential election, in June 2016, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won by barely a conceivable margin over Keiko Fujimori (see Calendar). The even result was unexpected when opinion polls pointed to a big head start for Keiko Fujimori, despite being disputed by Father Alberto Fujimori who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights violations during his tenure as president 1990-2000 (see Modern History). A high-level corruption scandal within her party may have contributed to her support being eroded at the final toll. Now Keiko Fujimori himself is in custody. According to the judge, there are serious suspicions that Keiko Fujimori is leading what is called a criminal organization within her party FP, with a view to funding her election campaigns. She is suspected, among other things, of receiving millions in bribes from Odebrecht in connection with the 2011 election.
The 2016 election
Both Kuczynski and Fujimori are considered right-wing politicians. However, in the crucial 2016 election round, Kuczynski was supported by large sections of the Left, which wanted to prevent a representative of Fujimorism from coming to power (see Political system).
However, FP had secured its own majority in the congressional election a few months earlier. The party came from the beginning to form a tough opposition front and caused several members of government to resign. In September 2017, Congress forced the entire government to resign (see Calendar).
At the same time, the bribery charges against President Kuczynski, who was Minister of Finance and Finance and Chief Minister under President Alejandro Toledo (2001–2006) grew. He first rejected all charges and denied all links to Odebrecht. Eventually, however, Kuczynski admitted that he was a consultant to the construction giant and received $ 5 million from the company. He still denied that it would have been a bribe.
FP began to prepare to put the president before the national court and his chances of succeeding seemed small. But when a vote was held in Congress in December 2017 about a possible legal process, the proponents failed to get enough votes. Several FP members abstained – including Kenji Fujimori, the brother of Keiko Fujimori.
Alberto Fujimori pardoned
Three days later, President Kuczynski suddenly pardoned the sibling’s father, ex-president Alberto Fujimori. It was generally assumed that the President had entered into a settlement on this with Kenji Fujimori, in exchange for the abstention. The pardon triggered violent protests. It also caused fragmentation in FP. Kenji Fujimori was excluded and, together with several other members, formed a new grouping in Congress. FP then no longer has its own majority.
Kuczynski’s credibility was severely damaged by the pardon. He had repeatedly assured him that he did not intend to pardon Fujimori. And he claimed for years that he had no connections with Odebrecht – until the company itself asserted the opposite. Many in Peru felt that Kuczynski was retaining the presidential post.
In March 2018, Congress decided to hold a new vote on putting President Kuczynski before state law. A few days before the vote, the opposition party FP published several video recordings that revealed how his allies tried to bribe opposition politicians to support him in the vote. It caused Kuczynski to throw in the towel.
Vizcarra new president
Then Vice President Martín Vizcarra was called home from Canada.
In the end, it was probably Kuczynski’s way of dealing with the accusations that became his case, rather than the accusations themselves. But he is now under investigation for corruption and was arrested at the prosecutor’s request in April 2019.
The scandals have shaken Peru. In 2018, several huge street protests were conducted against the traditional political establishment in the country. At the same time, the drama continued at the highest political level: a corruption scandal in the judiciary was revealed and led to the resignation of a Justice Minister and an HD judge who had moved the country was requested to be extradited. Alberto Fujimori’s pardon was withdrawn, which caused FP to drum up a law that gives elderly prisoners the right to serve prison sentences in freedom, but with electronic footage.
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
READING TIP – read more about Peru in the UI’s online magazine Foreign Magazine:
Pardon of President exacerbates political crisis in Peru (2018-02-13)
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Peru / Republic of Peru
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
President Martín Vizcarra (2018–) 1
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Popular Action (FA) 25, Progress Alliance (APP) 22, Frepap 15, Popular Force (FP) 15, Union for Peru (UP) 13, We Know Peru (PP) 11, We Are Peru (PDSP) 11, Purple Party (PM) 9, Broad Front (FA) 9 (2020) 2
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Popular Strength (FP) 73, Broad Front (FA) 20, Peruvians for Change (PPK) 18, Progress Alliance (APP) 9, Public Action (AP) 5, PAP / Apra 5 (2016)
82 percent in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections, 74 percent in the 2020 congressional elections
presidential and congressional elections 2021
- The president leads the government’s work, but it is also a Prime Minister / Chief Minister
2. extra election for Congress until 2021