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IRI Expert Discusses Peru's Impeachment Vote for the Latin America Advisor

September 24, 2020
 
Katya Rimkunas
 
The impeachment vote that President Martín Vizcarra survived was the third such effort in Peru in the last five years. The ill-conceived move by Vizcarra’s political opponents accentuated the deficiencies of the country’s legislative body and further discredited an already unpopular political class. While Vizcarra’s background as a relative political outsider in Lima earned him popular support—Peruvians overwhelmingly opposed the impeachment—this support has not translated into an ability to advance his ambitious reform agenda.
 
This year’s legislative elections left Peru’s Congress fractured between nine different political parties, some of which have never had representation, and none of which has a majority. Vizcarra himself does not have a party in Congress, and he has relied on coalitions of convenience rather than alliances around a shared view of Peru’s future. The obstacles to Vizcarra’s reform agenda are not all internal to Congress.
 
The political war between Congress and the president has made it almost impossible for Vizcarra to govern. With the world’s highest per-capita Covid-related mortality rate and an expected 12 percent economic contraction this year, this paralysis risks plunging the nation into turmoil. Against this backdrop, the impeachment effort has only solidified Peruvians’ belief that their legislators are out of touch with their needs and motivated by personal political vendettas. While he survived the impeachment, Vizcarra is clearly more alone than ever—his credibility eroded, and confidence in his leadership waning.