CHAPTER IV: ARENAS AND ACTORS
This section of the assessment addresses the principal arenas of action and identifies the key actors and
interests involved in each arena, looking at those actors that create or sustain existing problems. In
addition, it locates the best allies for strategies to overcome these problems. The Team examined five
critical arenas for democracy in Peru, along with the main actors and interests involved in each: the legal
arena, competitive arenas, national governance, local government, and civil society.
The Legal Arena/Rule of Law
Peru has had no fewer than twelve Constitutions since its establishment as a Republic in 1821. These
formal documents were observed more in the breach than in practice, due to the prevalence of
military regimes and elected governments that routinely violated constitutional rules. In theory,
constitutions were supreme and no laws could contradict them. In practice, the judicial branch exerted
little control over the constitutionality of laws, despite having the authority to do so.
Peru's constitutional tradition has been characterized by presidentialism, a tendency toward the
authoritarian exercise of power, political and economic centralism, and a personal
transcending parties and ideologies. Throughout Peruvian history, political instability combined with
weak institutions to produce repeated constitutional disruptions and swings between elected government
and dictatorship, the latter resulting from coups following conflicts between presidents and opposition
In summary, a civic culture of respect for the rule of law did not develop among Peruvian elites or the
general public, nor did Peruvians develop an awareness of constitutions or confidence in their validity.
At first, the 1979 Constitution promised to be an historic exception to this pattern.
The Current Constitutional Framework
Alberto Fujimori was elected for the first time in 1990 under the 1979 Constitution, which forbade
immediate presidential reelection. Many of the Government's early economic reforms found support in
the Congress, but other measures, encountered sharp resistance. Because the Government lacked a
parliamentary majority, conflicts between the President and the opposition Congress intensified,
culminating in the
of April 5, 1992. Fujimori suspended the 1979 Constitution, and closed
down the Congress, the Judicial branch and the Public Ministry (roughly equivalent to the Attorney
General s Office). The
regime was forced to bow to international pressure and hold elections in
November 1992 for a Constituent Congress whose primary charge was to draft a new Constitution.
The Government won a majority in the new Congress, which in turn allowed it to turn any and all
Executive proposals into law. Amid intense public controversy, Congress approved a new Constitution
and submitted it to public referendum in October 1993. It was ratified by a scant majority of 51%. Key
new provisions of the 1993 Constitution included stronger powers for the Executive and presidential
reelection for one consecutive term, strong limits on state intervention in the economy, restrictions on
regional and municipal decentralization, and an increase of the powers of military courts.
The 1993 Constitution also included several major changes to the structure of the judicial system,
including the establishment of the
Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura
(sometimes translated as the
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