There are 2,020 district level municipal governments in Peru. Since 1980, all district mayors and city
council members are directly elected by local residents. This is unusual in Latin America, where
municipal elections are often limited to the provincial or capital city level, and marks a sharp contrast to
the growing distance between congressional representatives and voters. Over the past two decades, there
have been more opportunities for local leaders and grassroots activists to participate in the electoral
process at a local level, providing an important arena for public participation in decision making. In
addition, the close link between citizens and local governments contributes to local governments'
relatively high degree of public legitimacy.
The 1997 election law included a new measure designed to accelerate the participation of women in both
municipal level and congressional politics. Dubbed the Quota Law, this measure stipulates that at least
25% of the candidates on all party lists for congressional and municipal elections must be women (or
men, should there be a female dominant party). In effect for the first time in the 1998 municipal
elections, this law prompted all parties to compete for eligible women, and mobilized over 3,000 female
candidates in Metropolitan Lima alone. As a result, there was a modest increase in the number of female
city council members elected. The total number of female candidates competing in the 2000
congressional elections increased to 26% (up from 10% in 1995), and 19% of the new Congress is
female. USAID grantees such as the PROMUJER alliance of NGOs have played a key role in preparing
women for competition under this new law as well as monitoring its overall impact.
The Guardians of the System: Actors, Interests, and Possible Allies
Prior to 1993, the National Elections Board (JNE) was the sole public agency responsible for
organization and oversight of the electoral process. Although it suffered from resource and technical
limitations, its work was largely considered to be professional and fair. The 1993 Constitution divided
this oversight responsibility among three distinct institutions: the JNE, the National Office of Electoral
Processes (ONPE), and the National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (RENIEC). This division
created confusion and competition among these agencies, and is considered to have weakened the
capacity of the oversight system as a whole. Furthermore, opposition parties and nonpartisan civic groups
have expressed concerns regarding the independence and impartiality of all three electoral bodies.
Prior to the 2000 election, all three agencies had medium to low public approval ratings. A 1999 survey
Instituto de Estudios Peruanos
reported approval ratings of 40.3 for the JNE, 42.3 for the ONPE,
and 45 for the RENIEC. By early 2000, polls indicated that a majority of the public already believed that
the 2000 electoral process would fraudulent (
) in some way, and in the wake of the actual vote
count the majority of the population as well as most international observors came to share this view (see
The JNE remains the most powerful of the three agencies. It rules on all questions or complaints
regarding the electoral process, announces the outcomes, and serves as the official watchdog of the
process. Originally structured to ensure relative independence and freedom from political influence, the
JNE is composed of five individuals. Its President is a representative of the Supreme Court, one
representative is from the Public Ministry, one representative comes from each of the leading public and
private university law schools, and a representative is selected by the Lima Bar association. Before 1998,
the JNE could issue rulings based on a simple majority (three out of five). However, the Congress issued
a law changing this to four out of five, making it easier for a minority to block action. Critics charge that
this change was intended to prevent the JNE from ruling against the future candidacy of President
Fujimori. Today the majority of those serving on the JNE are considered to be loyal to the President.
The JNE was the final arbiter on Fujimori's participation in the 2000 elections and the final result.
H:\INCOMING\July24\MSI Submission\Fn Email.doc