Almost two months have passed since the removal of President Pedro Castillo, and Peru is still at an impasse. The demonstrations continue at a daily rate, despite clashes with the police which have already caused, according to the independent body for the protection of human rights, nearly 60 deaths. In the streets of Cuzco as in those of Lima, there are calls for the departure of the new head of state, Dina Boluarte, and the holding of early elections, starting this year. As well as, more and more, the convocation of a constituent assembly.
Nearly 7 in 10 Peruvians want a constituent assembly
According to a survey published in January, 69% of Peruvians now say they are in favor of an assembly to change the current Constitution, adopted in 1993 under the presidency of Alberto Fujimori. A presidency marked, on the economic level, by a “shock therapy” with heavy social consequences, with many privatizations at the key. “The 1993 Constitution marked an economic shift for Peru, limiting in particular the role of the State and encouraging foreign investment, particularly in the extractive field”, recalls Valérie Robin Azevedo, professor of anthropology at the University of Paris. Cited.
Three decades later, the idea of reforming this text is not entirely new: it already appeared in the program of Pedro Castillo, elected in 2021. “In April 2022, the government presented a bill providing for the organization of a referendum on the opening of a constituent process, explains Roman Perdomo, doctoral student in political science at the University of Montreal. The idea was to convene a popular, plurinational and joint constituent assembly. »
This attempt had failed. It is true that at the time this proposal was not very popular. But since the beginning of the current crisis, a constitutional reform seems to many Peruvians to be the only solution to tackle the country’s recurring ills: elite corruption; persistent poverty and growing inequalities; chronic institutional instability, etc. In December, Dina Boluarte became the sixth president since July 2016.
A project far from complete
Unique solution… or additional obstacle on the way to appeasement? While the debates continued Wednesday, February 1 in the Parliament of Lima on the organization of early elections, pressing demand of the demonstrators, the elected representatives of the left were reluctant to give the green light, demanding to include in the compromise submitted to the vote the convocation of a constituent assembly. What the Fujimorist right, majority in Parliament, refuses.
For the time being, the demand for constitutional changes does not constitute a successful project, nor is it part of an approach as structured as in Chile, where the population has expressed, since 2019, its desire to put an end to the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. “When we ask people about the changes to include in the text, they express sometimes very conservative demands, such as the return of the death penalty, but also more progressive wishes, such as a greater role for the State in the economy or additional social rights”, continues Roman Perdomo.
Some tracks also aim to ensure better representativeness of elected officials, by establishing a system of primaries. But none of this should see the light of day… before new elections and possible reform.
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