Peru: Politics and Economy

Peru - Politics & Economy

The Peruvian government is led by a president who is popularly elected to a five-year term. The president of Peru oversees and appoints the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) and is assisted by the president of the Council of Ministers as well as two elected vice presidents. Legislative power is entrusted in the Congress of the Republic. These individuals are also elected to five-year terms.

Voting is required for all citizens aged 18 to 70. There are many political parties, generally over 20 distinct parties, ranging from right wing conservative to left-wing socialist and communist.

Streets of Cusco Peru
School in Peru
Peruvian food lomo saltado

Brief Political History of Peru

After 12 years of military rule, Peru transitioned back to democracy in 1980. The decade that followed was characterized by economic crisis and the government’s unsuccessful fight to defeat a radical Maoist guerrilla uprising known popularly as the Sendero Luminoso or the Shining Path that lead to thousands upon thousands of deaths and disappearances.

During President Alan Garcia’s first term from 1985 to 1990 Peru saw hyperinflation and a debt crisis. By 1990, Peru elected the independent candidate Alberto Fujimori who became increasingly more autocratic and oversaw the writing of a new constitution in 1993, which allowed him to run and win again in 1995. He was also known for serious human rights violations. When he was reelected in 2000, Fujimori’s government collapsed due to electoral fraud and high-level corruption. In 2009 he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity.

Peru then entered a period of relative economic growth, political stability and poverty reduction, which began with President Valentin Paniagua (November 2000-July 2001) and continued with Peru’s first president of indigenous descent, Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006). Alan Garcia made a comeback in 2006 followed by Ollanta Humala who was elected in 2011 and was president until 2016.

Since 2016, Peru has experienced an institutional crisis. The government was divided between President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (2016-2018) and the Congress, which was controlled by the opposition leader, Keiko Fujimori (the daughter of the former dictator, Alberto Fujimori.) The crisis culminated with a corruption scandal that led to the resignation of Kuczynski.

Later, Martín Vizcarra (2018-2020) closed the Congress and right before gaining some political stability, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Peru, one of the most affected countries in the Americas. Besides having a significant approval rate with the Peruvian population, Martín Vizcarra, was shockingly removed by Congress. Manuel Merino, the speaker of the Congress, and the main instigator in the impeachment process, took the presidential office after a rushed ceremony, even with accusations that he was responsible for a coup. His presidency lasted all of 5 days.

Francisco Sagasti (2020-2021), a social researcher with a wealth of academic experience, was appointed to complete the elected period of 2016-2021.

Peru Lima center palace
People of Peru
Politics Peru Lima

The actual situation in Peru

In summary: Peru experienced one of its worst political crises in its history in November 2020 witnessing three heads of state in a week after a battle between the presidency and Congress, along with violent protests that left two people dead.

The current president of Peru is Pedro Castillo, a Peruvian schoolteacher and union leader. He is part of the Marxist-Leninist Free Peru party, who won popularly among the poorer rural communities in Peru. He beat the hard right-wing opponent Keiko Fujimori (daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori) in a razor thin margin of 50.13% to 49.87%.

It’s unclear what the future of his campaign will bring. Castillo now faces a divided nation while still trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. His new presidency is split between support for his socialist reforms and fears he will upend the nation's traditional politics and mining by, once again, redrafting the Peruvian constitution.