Peru votes on anti-corruption law that could increase power of the presidency

Latin America

Peru votes on anti-corruption law that could increase power of the presidency

A vote in Peru could empower the president to reshape the entire political system. This referendum comes in the wake of corruption scandals that have rocked the country, and left citizens with little-to-no faith in their elected officials.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns filed this report from Lima.

The referendum comes at the end of a year of seismic shifts in politics, and they’re changes that many Peruvians welcome. Turnout was high in Peru, where voting is mandatory. Those who stay home face fines.

Citizens are being asked if they want to:

  1. Change the system used to appoint judges and prosecutors,
  2. Toughen laws on electoral campaign financing (adding criminal penalties), and
  3. Limit lawmakers’ terms by banning immediate re-election.

Polls show most people are overwhelmingly in favor of these measures. However, a fourth and final question, to change Peru’s one-chamber legislature to a bicameral system, is predicted to be voted down. It’s a sign of just how unpopular politicians in the country currently are.

This poll is about more than the four questions on the voting card. For many Peruvians, it’s a vote of confidence for their president, Martin Vizcarra. He’s met public indignation over corrupt judges and politicians with a pledge to root out graft from the top down.

Vizcarra, then-vice president to Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki, took office when the leader resigned amid corruption allegations in March. In the wake of a string of scandals, Vizcarra focused on the fight against corruption, as he told CGTN in October.

“If this government is remembered, it will be for fighting against corruption, in theory and in practice, and I stress in practice, because in theory everyone has said they will fight against corruption,” Vizcarra said.

Four former Peruvian presidents are under investigation for ties to the scandal-plagued Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht. The company has admitted to handing out $30 million in bribes in Peru.

In October, opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was taken into preventative detention as prosecutors investigate her party’s financial ties with the company.

While on Monday, Uruguay turned down an asylum request by two-time former president Alan Garcia, who claimed “political persecution” after he was barred from leaving the country.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations he took bribes from Odebrecht in his second term, from 2006 to 2011.

Eduardo Gamarra talks about Peru’s referendum

For more insight into Peru’s referendum, and the efforts to tackle corruption across Latin America. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg spoke with Eduardo Gamarra. He’s a political science professor at Florida International University, and the former director of the Latin America and Caribbean Center.