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 In the end, the motion was withdrawn, but it shows that they can be tabled.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.