Where does the proposal to hold early elections in Peru come from?
Interim Peruvian President Dina Boluarte called Friday, January 27, for early elections to get the country out “from the quagmire”. She said she supported the opposition’s initiative to bring forward the presidential and legislative elections initially scheduled for 2026 to December 2023.
Dina Boluarte has led Peru since the dismissal by Parliament, on December 7, 2022, of the former elected president, from the left, Pedro Castillo. This dismissal had triggered violent demonstrations during which 46 civilians and a policeman died. On paper, Dina Boluarte, from the government of Pedro Castillo, must exercise the presidential function until 2026, the end of the mandate that her predecessor should have fulfilled.
To contain the growing discontent, Parliament had decided to bring forward the general elections to April 2024. Dina Boluarte finally proposed the date of December 2023. But in plenary session, after a debate that lasted seven hours, the parliamentarians rejected his proposal by 65 votes, while 45 elected members voted in favor, and two abstained.
What are the consequences of the negative vote of the parliament?
The Speaker of Parliament received, after the vote, a request for “reconsideration of the vote” which could be debated on Monday 30 January during a new session, although it now seems very difficult to go back on this result.
With this vote, the Peruvian political crisis worsens further, and the vagueness with it. “The protests continue, there are more blockages and violence”, insisted Dina Boluarte before the debates in parliament. She was speaking from Lima airport, from where medicines and medical equipment were sent to the south of the country paralyzed by roadblocks. “No one has an interest in clinging to power (…) I have no interest in remaining in the presidency”she then assured, adding that she remained in office to assume her “constitutional responsibility (…) until Parliament (…) calls an election”.
Confusion is also growing among the population and on the streets, with the continuation of daily demonstrations and roadblocks causing food and medicine shortages, especially in the poor Andean regions of the south.
What is the economic and social situation in Peru?
Beyond political demands, the Peruvian people express social demands. Hunger has indeed become an issue again in the country, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in August 2022: nearly 7 million Peruvians (more than one inhabitant in five) experiences severe food insecurity, defined as going without food for one or even several days. In this respect, Peru is ahead of Argentina… and Venezuela.
In this situation, the figure of the left-wing president Pedro Castillo, who took office in July 2021, was divisive in the population. On the one hand, those who judged his government to be corrupt and who reproached him for his attempt to dissolve the Congress (dominated by the right-wing opposition), and the establishment of an emergency government. A maneuver immediately qualified as ” Rebellion ” by the Constitutional Court, and which recalled other dark times from the time of autocratic President Alberto Fujomori. Pedro Castillo was eventually removed for “moral incapacity”. He was notably accused of repeated ministerial crises and the formation of four governments in eight months, an unprecedented event in Peru.
Moreover, opponents of Pedro Castillo argue that part of the support he enjoys comes from Movadef, the political wing of Shining Path. This Maoist guerrilla caused thousands of deaths in the 1980s and 1990s. Since coming to power in July 2021, the ex-president has maintained a certain ambiguity with the Shining Path, which has traumatized Peru.