Last Friday I looked at the constitutional history of South Korea since 1948. This week I am looking at the constitutional history of another country that is consistently difficult to classify – Peru.
The full set of Peruvian constitutions from 1812-2001 is available in Spanish online here in a book by Domingo Garciá Belaunde, Las Constituciones del Perú, Lima, 2005. If you have access to the HeinonLine legal database, then you may also be able to download English versions of the texts from 1823-1946 as part of their World Constitutions Illustrated Resource Collection. This resource includes the British & Foreign State Papers series, which provided English translations of the texts of most constitutions in the world for more than a century.
The question is when can Peru be classed as semi-presidential? I am going to go through the 1919, 1933, 1979 and 1993 constitutions to try to answer this question. Bear in mind that the direct election of the president is included throughout. So, I am focussing on whether there is a PM and whether the PM and government are collectively responsible to the legislature. The bottom line is that there is a clear trajectory in the wording of the constitutions over time.
The 1919 Constitution
Art. 111 The head of the Government shall be styled President of the Republic.
Art. 128 The Ministers of State when assembled form the Council of Ministers …
Art. 133 Ministers against whom either of the Houses has issued a vote of lack of confidence may not continue in office
So, this constitution is clearly presidential. There is no mention of anything like a PM; the president is stated as being the head of government; and responsibility is purely individual
The 1933 Constitution
Art. 134 The President of the Republic is the Head of the State …
Art. 154 The attributes of the President of the Republic are:
(7) To appoint and remove the President of the Council of Ministers and the Ministers of State, in conformity with the. constitution;
Art. 157 The Ministers of State in assembly form the Council of Ministers … The Council of Ministers has its President.
Art. 158 The President of the Republic appoints and removes the President of the Council.
Art. 172 A vote of censure against the Council of Ministers or against any of the Ministers may be moved by a single deputy or senator, and the vote shall be taken at the same session.
Art. 173 The censured Minister must resign. The President of the Republic shall accept the resignation.
We are on the cusp of semi-presidentialism here. There is a PM. There is mention of the possibility of a vote of censure against the cabinet. However, Art. 173 only makes mention of individual responsibility. While the implication from Art. 172 is that there is collective responsibility, there does not seem to be an explicit mention of this power in the constitution. So, I do not class Peru as semi-presidential under this constitution.
The 1979 Constitution
Art. 201 The President of the Republic is the Head of the State …
Art. 215 The Ministers of State in assembly form the Council of Ministers … The Council of Ministers has its President
Art. 216 The President of the Republic appoints and removes the President of the Council
Art. 226 The Chamber of Deputies hold politically responsible the Council of Ministers or Ministers individually by way of a vote of censure or a vote of confidence … The censured Council of Ministers or Minister must resign. The President of the Republic shall accept the resignation.
So, this wording is slightly but significantly different from the 1935 Constitution and the result is to make the country clearly semi-presidential. The mechanism for collective responsibility is explicitly specified.
The 1993 Constitution
Here, the wording is almost exactly the same as for the 1979 constitution. The relevant Articles are 110, 121, 122 and 132 respectively. So, again, this constitution is semi-presidential.
So, Peru is clearly semi-presidential since 1979. There is a case to be made for its inclusion from 1933. However, I tend to exclude this case.