arena (allowign for a range of debate and disagreement between government and citizens), a strong and
plural civil society, and a free and independent media.  Furthermore, democracy requires institutionalized
competition within the government itself, through a balance of power between its branches and levesl that
serves as a check on potential abuses of power.
The quality and effectiveness of political competition in Peru has steadily eroded over the last decade.
Although the country has a strong presidentialist tradition and abuses of Executive power were not
uncommon in the 1980s, the various arenas of competition have become far more restricted since
President Fujimori took office in 1990. Now there are few adequate counterweights to executive
authority within the government itself.  As mentioned above, separation of powers between the executive,
legislature, and judiciary branches has been undermined by measures that are widely considered to be
unconstitutional. The process of electoral competition has also been increasingly questioned since the
1995 elections, and charges of abuse of incumbent advantage and outright elections fraud reached a high
point in the 2000 campaign. Political parties remain weak and fragmented, a phenomenon which has
been exacerbated by new rules in the 1993 Constitution and a new elections law in 1997. Furthermore,
Peru's diverse and largely private media has been increasingly restricted in its coverage of the political
competition and in the ability to investigate and denounce abuses of power.
1.
The Electoral Process
Suffrage is universal and obligatory in Peru. National and local level elections were largely considered
free and fair throughout the 1980s, although there were numerous technical difficulties such as
inaccuracies in the voter registration rolls and high levels of nullified votes. Nevertheless, no electoral
outcome was seriously contested and no sectors of the population were formally excluded from
participation.
This situation changed over the 1990s.  Suspicion that the government had not played fair in the 1992
congressional elections or the 1993 referendum undermined public trust in the government entities
responsible for guaranteeing the transparency and validity of the electoral process, which led to a call for
domestic and international observers to monitor the 1995 elections.  Observers conceded those elections
were free and fair, but there were enough irregularities in the preferential vote to cast doubts on the
government's parliamentary majority.   By the time President Fujimori declared his a candidacy for a
constitutionally dubious third term (2000 2005), public confidence in electoral institutions were very low
indeed,
5
 precipitating another call among opposition leaders for international observers to monitor the
2000 campaign and the vote on election day.  The resulting process was one of the most questioned and
problematic in Peru s history, marred by abuses of power by the Executive and ruling party in their effort
to remain in power for a third consecutive term (see additional details, below).
                                                    
5
 A poll rated JNE a 10 out of 20 points in terms of institutional quality; ONPE received a 9  A total of 1,100 people
were interviewed. The margin of error is plus/minus 3.0%. Source: 
Gestion
, 20 April, 2000.
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