building the legislature as an institution. Such an assessment could be coordinated by a prestigious
national university or prominent nongovernmental organization.
As mentioned above, the Team also recommends encouraging debate about the merits and disadvantages
of existing electoral rules and structures of representation, including the unitary district, the size of the
legislature, and simultaneous elections for the President and Congress. Reforms in this area could
constitute important steps towards overcoming both political party and legislative weaknesses. Recent
announcements by government officials of proposals to modify the electoral rules are encouraging
signals in this regard.
Freedom of expression and the exchange of diverse viewpoints are essential to check and balance
government power, as well as to enable competition to take place. In Peru in recent years there has been
an alarming increase in direct political intimidation of the media, as well as in the practice of self
censorship (especially by the broadcast media) to avoid political retribution. Such limits on the full
exercise of media freedoms inhibit the dissemination of ideas, distribution of information, and the ability
of dissenting groups to get their messages to the public. These problems reached a high point during the
2000 electoral campaign, when commercial television stations in particular engaged in clear favoritism of
the incumbent candidate, while other candidates lacked adequate access to free or paid air time.
External donors may not be able effectively to address the root causes of much of the current restrictions
on press freedom in Peru, which include the financial fragility of the sector and its dependence on public
sector advertising. However, the Team recommends providing modest support to watchdog
organizations that can monitor the media, document violations of press freedom, draw international
attention to this issue, and provide legal assistance for journalists or media owners embroiled in high
profile media freedom cases.
Decentralization and Local Government
Local government has the potential to serve as a check against centralized power, as well as being an
arena in which new political leadership can emerge and through which inclusion issues can be tackled.
However, municipal governments in Peru are underfunded through direct revenue transfers and are
overly dependent on Executive level budgetary authority and decision making. This situation often
undermines local governments and thwarts the development of a system of institutionalized checks and
balances to central government authority at the local level.
Donor support to advance this dimension of democracy, even in the absence of a more extensive
decentralization process, would help prepare regional and municipal governments for the responsibilities
of governance. Resources permitting, the Team therefore recommends supporting local and regional
initiatives that contribute to greater local participation in decision making; strategic planning and
technical assistance to create capacity for municipalities to generate their own resources; and technical
assistance to select regional mayors' associations. The Team also recommends a national policy debate
on the need to carry out a democratic decentralization effort and to address resource insufficiencies at the
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