The mandate of a new president, Dina Boluarte, begins in Peru after President Pedro Castillo was arrested on December 7. Boluarte has already begun dialogue and consensus building in a fragmented and highly polarized Congress
In four hours Pedro Castillo went from being president of Peru to a prisoner accused of carrying out a coup by disregarding Congress and its judicial institutions. The political earthquake fortunately did not plunge the country into chaos, thanks to the consolidated democratic system and solid Peruvian institutions. This system has allowed Peru to endure recurring crises of political instability in the last six years.
Democratic institutions and the Peruvian rule of law once again saved the democratic governance of a country that since 2016 has removed six of its presidents in a context of deep divisions between the Executive and the different Congresses, the latter characterized by fragmentation and polarization, which has led the Andean nation to almost ungovernability.
Peru is a country hit hard by corruption with a divided and ideologically polarized society and with political parties that look more at the immediate interests of their leaders than building a long-term vision of the State. However, thanks to democratic institutions, the system solved the crisis of a coup considered soft.
Pedro Castillo on December 6, 2022, during one of his last acts as president of Peru. /
A presidential message that caused an earthquake
At 11:40 a.m. on December 7, in a message to the nation, President Pedro Castillo announced the dissolution of the National Congress, as well as the reorganization of the judicial system and the Constitutional Court, which he had described as impartial. and motivated by political interests. The presidential message caused a political earthquake that would lead to his sudden dismissal and legal prosecution.
The desperate measure of then-President Castillo to avoid his removal by Congress based on alleged acts of corruption led him into a direct confrontation with the legislature. A highly divided Congress that came together out of fear of losing their parliamentary seats. A survival game that ended with the removal of the president accused of orchestrating a coup.
In the streets and government corridors there was fear about the possible implications of a social outbreak or takeover of government by the military. Some units close to the National Palace were warned of the possibility of evacuating the staff if things got complicated. However, the institutions, and particularly the Armed Forces, remained loyal to the democratic and legal system, arguing that they did not owe obedience to “the usurper” who sought to remove the democratically elected powers.
At 3:20 a.m., Dina Boluarte was sworn in as the first female president of Peru in its 201-year republican history. The former vice president had promised to resign if President Castillo was removed, although she was once again able to overcome the instinct of political survival.
Dina Boluarte as president of Peru. /
Will Dina Boluarte be able to stay in power?
For many analysts it is not clear if the new president will be able to stay in power without a parliamentary group that supports her. But surely it will be precisely the interest of maintaining the legislative seat that will lead the congressmen to maintain a fragile alliance that allows both the Executive and the Legislative to survive.
There is now a fragile alliance in a very fragmented Congress and clearly confronted with a political spectrum that goes from orthodox Marxist parties like that of the current president to those of the right like that of former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. Congress is made up of 130 seats, which have formed 14 different benches, with 9 congressmen not grouped.
President Boluarte has distanced herself quite a bit from the Marxist Peru Libre party that brought her to power, so she will probably find it difficult to rally support. This party currently has 15 representatives of the 37 with which they arrived. Once again a party in which most of its representatives have disassociated themselves to seek alliances that improve their own political future. Probably this lack of partisan cohesion and personal interests will make it easier for him to form coalitions that will allow him to govern the new president.
On the other side is Fujimorismo as the main opposition force with 24 legislators, a cohesive group committed to democratic governance, but which has suffered a clearly dejected policy from the left against its political leadership, including humanitarian measures against former president Fujimori and the legal proceedings against his daughter Keiko. This context is likely to make negotiation difficult.
the conversations begin
The majority group is made up of the rest of the legislators, in an amalgamation that goes from 37 from parties linked to the ultra-right to 14 legislators from traditional center-right parties such as Acción Popular. President Boluarte has already begun dialogue and consensus building in a fragmented and highly polarized Congress with extreme positions, a task that seems almost impossible politically and ideologically, but where once again pragmatism and the personal survival of legislators lead to agreements that allow the desired political stability.
Surprisingly, six years of political instability appear not to have affected Peru’s economic growth, which this year will reach more than 3% growth, one of the highest in Latin America. No other country in the region would have weathered so much political instability without causing a political and economic earthquake. The answer lies in a consolidated democratic system of two centuries, solid institutions that allow governance in moments of crisis and the commitment of its politicians and officials for democracy and governability.
However, we cannot ignore how political survival has been a decisive factor in the origin and solution to the recurring political crises in Peru.
This article has been published in The Conversation.
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