Category Archives: Peru

Is Peru really semi-presidential?

Is Peru semi-presidential. The answer is obviously ‘yes’. But is Peru really semi-presidential? That’s the question.

In previous posts I have discussed semi-presidentialism in Peru. Both the 1979 and 1993 constitutions clearly make the head of government and cabinet collectively responsible to the legislature. Art. 132 states: “Congress makes effective the political liability of the Cabinet or of each Minister individually through a vote of no confidence or by defeating a vote of confidence  … A censured Cabinet or Minister must resign. The President of the Republic accepts the resignation within the subsequent 72 hours.” This is pretty much as semi-presidential as you can get.

However, some people have difficulty calling Peru semi-presidential. It has a strong president. It is also situated in an oasis of Latin American presidentialism. Here, though, the issue I am interested in is whether Art. 132 is ever invoked. In practice, is the cabinet ever removed by parliament?

I am no Peru expert, but there is some context that might be relevant. Firstly, my understanding is that political parties in Peru are relatively ill-disciplined and that presidents do not have a secure and stable majority in Congress. These seem to be the conditions where the legislature is likely to bring down the cabinet. Secondly, there is a quick turnover of PMs in Peru. The average lifespan is six months. So, even if most of these changes are purely presidential, has Congress ever voted down a government?

Well, those who follow my Facebook page may be aware that last month the legislature tabled a motion of censure against the PM. There is a report here. In the end, the motion was withdrawn, but it shows that they can be tabled.

I then did some digging and found some other evidence. In October 2008 Congress tabled a motion of censure against the then PM Jorge del Castillo, who was accused of corruption allegations. However, before the vote could be held the PM handed in the government’s resignation to President Alan García. So, even if the PM was not defeated, the threat of a motion of no-confidence seems to have tipped the balance.

In addition, in June 2009 there was a motion of censure against the then PM Yehude Simon. The censure motion needed 61 votes to pass, but received only 56. So, the PM survived. However, he resigned on 11 July.

I have also found mention of a similar situation in January 2005. This time the censure motion against PM Carlos Ferrero received only 43 votes. He stayed on as PM until August.

There may be other examples and there may be examples where the censure motion has been successful. However, I have not had the time to do much digging. The bottom line, though, is that not only is Peru semi-presidential, it is really semi-presidential.

Peru – New PM

Apologies to Peru watchers, but I missed the appointment of a new PM there.

The previous incumbent, Oscar Valdes, was appointed on 11 December 2011. The new PM, Juan Jiménez Mayor, was appointed on 23 July 2012. He is already the third PM appointed by President Ollanta Humala, who took office in July 2011.

PM Jiménez was previously the Minister for Justice and Human Rights under the Valdes government.

Peru – New PM

The prime minister of Peru, Salomón Lerner Ghitis, resigned on Saturday. He has been replaced by the former Minister of the Interior, Oscar Valdes.

There are various reports as to why PM Lerner stepped down. One report says that it is in response to leftists who want President Humala to dismiss the moderates in his cabinet. The same report states that Peruvian cabinets traditionally step down in December. This may be true, but the PM does not usually leave at this time. Another report stresses the impact of the ongoing popular dispute in Minas Conga against the proposed gold mining development there. President Humala recently declared a state of emergency as the authorities had been finding it difficult to control the protests. For the Peruvian Times, the appointment of PM Valdes is a sign that the administration will take a hard line against the protests.

PM Lerner had been office for just 5 months, which is about the average time for a Peruvian head of government.

Peru – New government

The newly-elected President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, was inaugurated late last week. The new government took office at the same time.

The new prime minister is Salomón Lerner Ghitis. He is close to President Humala, but he is also a businessman and his appointment has reassured markets. The same is true for the president’s choice of Finance Minister, Luis Miguel Castilla, who is being seen as business-friendly. The president also reconducted the head of central bank in another move that the markets liked.

Given the president faces a very divided Congress, then these appointments are also perhaps designed to maximise support there.

There is a report on the new government here.

Peru – Presidential election 2nd round

The second round of the presidential election in Peru was held on Sunday. The Electoral Commission presents the following results with virtually all votes counted and verified:

Ollanta Humala (Peruvian Nationalist Party), 51.49%
Keiko Fujimori (Fuerza 2011), 48.51%

So, Ollanta Humala, who came second at the 2006 presidential election and who is presented as the pro-indigenous candidate has won.

There is a brief discussion about the election on the Fruits and Votes blog. The point is made that President Humala will have to face a very polarised and fragmented Congress.

Peru – Congressional election

The legislative election in Peru was held on 11 April, the same day as the presidential election. I have not seen the final official results, but I have calculated the percentage of votes from information provided by the Electoral Commission and the seats from a newspaper report. Here are the figures:

Gana Perú (Peruvian Nationalist Party), 25.3% (47 seats, up 2)
Fuerza 2011, 23.0% (39 seats, up 26)
Perú Posible, 14.8% (19 seats, up 17)
Alianza por el Gran Cambio 14.4% (12 seats, new party)
Solidaridad Nacional, 10.2% (9 seats, down 8)
Partido Aprista Peruano, 6.4% (4 seats, down 32)

The Congressional election is a one-round vote. The presidential election is a two-ballot vote. The second round will be held on 5 June. The remaining presidential candidates represent the Gana Perú and Fuerza 2011 movements. Bearing in kind that these groups are themselves coalitions, the net result is that the next president will not be supported by a coherent majority in the legislature, though this is nothing new in Peru.

Peru – New PM

There is a new PM is Peru. The previous PM, José Antonio Chang Escobedo, resigned for personal reasons and was replaced by the Minister of Justice, Rosario del Pilar Fernández Figueroa. She is an independent and continues to hold the position of Minister of Justice.

Should you wish to see it there is footage of her swearing-in ceremony here.

We would expect it of a president-parliamentary system, but it is worth noting that PM Chang was appointed in September 2010 and that, prior to his appointment, the average tenure of a Peruvian PM was just 11 months. PM Chang has just reduced that figure by a small amount.

Peru – Presidential election

The first round of the presidential election in Peru was held on Sunday. The Electoral Commission is reporting results with over 94% of valid votes counted. So, while the final result is not yet known, by now the names of the candidates who will go into the second round are clear. Here are the figures as they currently stand:

Ollanta Humala (Peruvian Nationalist Party), 31.7%
Keiko Fujimori (Fuerza 2011), 23.5%
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Alianza por el Gran Cambio) 18.5%
Alejandro Toledo (Perú Posible), 15.6%
Luis Castañeda Lossio (Solidaridad Nacional), 9.8%

There were various other candidates, but none has won more than 0.3%.

So, the run-off will be between Ollanta Humala, who came second at the 2006 presidential election and who is seen (by some) as a left-wing, pro-indigenous candidate, and Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former autocrat, Alberto Fujimori. Humala is likely to win as things stand. The second round will be held on 5 June.

There is a nice discussion about the election on the Fruits and Votes blog.

I will post about the legislative election separately.

Peru – Regional and municipal elections, and referendum

Elections were held in Peru three weeks ago. The Electoral Commission there has still to finalise the votes, but about 98 per cent have now been counted and approved. The slowness of the count has become a source of political debate.

The main news story concerns the race for the mayor of Lima. With the ONPE reporting 99.8% of votes counted, Susana Villarán, the left-wing candidate of the Partido Descentralista Fuerza Social (Social Force), has a small but decisive lead over her conservative rival, Lourdes Flores, of the Partido Popular Cristiano (Christian People’s Party). The problem for Villarán is that the overall authority may not have a majority for her party, though various smaller parties have pledged to support her.

There will be a second round of voting to elect the presidents of the country’s regional councils. The key lesson from these elections seems to be that regional and independent candidates have done well and that established parties have fared badly. The party of President Garcia, APRA, is ahead in just one region.

With 91% of votes counted in the referendum, the ‘yes’ vote is easily ahead. Living in Peru outlines the aim of the referendum: “The referendum was held to decide whether the Peruvian state had to return the money that workers had invested in a national housing fund (Fonavi) between 1979 and 1998. The Fonavi funds were seized and redirected by former president Alberto Fujimori’s government. The press has estimated the amount of these funds to be between 20 and 30 billion soles (between U.S. $7.2 and $10.8 billion)”.

Peru – New PM

One of the most precarious political jobs on the planet has claimed another victim. Javier Velasquez has resigned as prime minister of Peru. He is the 19th prime minister since the passage of the most recent constitution in 1993. This means the average tenure of a Peruvian PM is about 11 months. Given PM Velasquez was appointed in July 2009, he has had a relatively good innings.

This time there was a somewhat mundane reason for the PM’s departure. According to Art. 91 of the constitution, ministers and deputy ministers “who have not resigned from office six months before the election may not be elected to Congress”. PM Velasquez and a number of his ministerial colleagues intend to stand in next April’s election. Therefore, they had to resign.

The new PM is Antonio Chang, the former Education Minister. Like his predecessor, he is from President Garcia’s APRA party. The names of the government ministers are available here.