that cannot afford counsel. After the
, the Executive disbanded the Judiciary, removed
allegedly corrupt judges, named new provisional magistrates, and placed the Judiciary under executive
control. Initial reform efforts made progress in the acceleration of certain kinds of cases, modernizing
judicial proceedings and using conciliation mechanisms, but the fundamental problem of political
manipulation of this sector remains.
This does not mean that there is not any protection of life, liberty or property in Peru. There are no
formal barriers on freedom of expression and association, the media is largely in private hands, and
private individuals, businesses and nonprofit associations enjoy considerable liberty of action. On the
whole, respect for private property has increased. Personal security has also improved in recent years, as
a result of the successful battle against terrorism. However, the government security apparatus has
increasingly turned on critics of the government, including opposition parties, civil society organizations,
the media and even outspoken business leaders. Rather than protecting the victims of such abuses, the
judiciary is all too often another instrument of persecution, as critics find themselves embroiled in
dubious and complex judicial proceedings.
Even if the rule of law were to be fully restored in Peru, there would be no effective democracy unless
there were competition for power based on popular sovereignty. Neither the 1979 nor the 1993
Constitution gives the Executive unlimited power. In fact, the current Magna Carta provides for a
significant number of checks and balances on central power from the Congress, the Judiciary, local and
regional governments, the electoral process, multi party competition, a free and autonomous civil society,
and a free press. Therefore, the ability of elected Presidents to exercise arbitrary power is due in large
part to the weakness or complicity of other competitors and to increasing practical restrictions on these
arenas of competition.
The 1993 Constitution invests the Congress with significant powers and prerogatives, including debating
and passing legislation, creating investigative commissions, and forcing cabinet members to step down
through censure, impeachment, and votes of no confidence. In practice, however, the legislature has been
neither significant nor autonomous. This is largely because the official party has occupied an absolute
majority of the seats and maintains a high degree of discipline, while the minority in opposition is
composed of weak and fragmented parties. The legislature seldom functions as a forum for debate over
major public policy issues, nor does it function as a vehicle for the representation and articulation of
citizen interests. Nearly half of all legislation issued since 1995 was issued by the Executive.
Changes in the Constitution and electoral rules themselves since 1993 (e.g. reduction in the size of
Congress and move to a single voter district for congressional elections), have also weakened the links
between representatives and the voters, a trend which is exacerbated by the fragmentation of the party
system. Whereas voters in the 1980s tended to support four main political parties, since 1990, the party
system has been characterized by a predominance of independent political movements that are largely
transitory in nature, organized around personalist leaders rather than specific ideologies or programs.
Fourteen parties and movements participated in the 1995 general elections and nine fielded presidential
candidates in the 2000 contest.
The significance of this trend for democratic consolidation is not entirely clear. On one hand, the current
system favors a high degree of pluralism and greater inclusion, as the new independent movements have
offered more opportunities for women and non elites to participate as candidates and leaders. The shift
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