The new party system which emerged in the 1980s was broader and more representative than in the past
and potentially more capable of aggregating and articulating the interests of a larger and more socially
diverse electorate. There were four main parties in the 1980s: the center left populist APRA, the center
right populist Accion Popular, the right of center PPC, and the socialist United Left coalition. Each party
governed or shared power sometime in the 1980s. Each was troubled with acute internal divisions and by
the predominance of short term electoral objectives over the establishment of lasting party structures and
constituency building. Furthermore, they all seemed incapable of governing effectively.
In was in this context that independent candidate Alberto Fujimori came to power with a platform that
was critical of political parties, proposing to replace them with more a efficient Executive and with
mechanisms of direct democracy linking the President directly with the masses.
resonated with the electorate, and since 1992 the government has attempted to carry it out by changing
the structures of congressional representation, electoral rules, and oversight mechanisms.
Peru's party system today is characterized by the predominance of independent political movements that
are largely transitory in nature, organized around the electoral candidacies of personalist leaders
(generally outsiders and nontraditional politicians in the Fujimori mold) rather than specific ideologies
or government programs. In the 2000 elections there are 10 different congressional lists and nine
presidential candidates, and those leading in the polls are new, rather than established, parties. Fujimori
himself has not established a permanent party, opting instead to form new political ones for each
The political party system thus involves three sets of actors and interests.
The first group, involving
President Fujimori and his supporters, depends almost entirely on the use of public agencies and
resources to retain popular support. As this group has neither been able or willing to organize a lasting
political organization with bases in society, keeping Fujimori in power is fundamental for its survival.
Hence, their willingness to bend the rules in order to win the elections of 2000.
The second group is composed of the so called traditional parties (APRA, AP, PPC, and what remains
of the socialist left). Their main interest is in sheer political survival. They have turned inward, focusing
on cultivating their remaining traditional support bases, hampering their ability to join forces in broader
coalitions around common objectives. For the most part, these parties have displayed a lack of internal
democracy, leadership turnover, or new political messages. This, combined with an inability to propose
convincing economic and social policy alternatives, has led to their persistent political marginalization.
In fact, in the 2000 election the PPC did not participate at all because it could not get the minimum
signatures needed to registar with the JNE, and AP lost its registration as a result of the 2000 contest
because it did not reach the minimum number of votes required to maintain its standing as an official
The third set of actors are the emergent independent movements vying to replace Fujimori, including
Per Posible, Somos Per , Solidaridad Nacional, Avancemos,
and other contenders at the national and
municipal levels. These movements, usually created around the candidacy of a popular figure, are
sustained by the mass media and shifting citizen preferences as transmitted by public opinion polls. Their
The rise of independent candidates preceded Fujimori, with the election of popular television personality Ricardo
Belmont as Mayor of Lima in 1989.
This characterization of the party system draws on the work of political scientist Martin Tanaka,
politicos en el Peru , 1992 1999
, IEP Working Paper No. 108, noviembre 1999.
H:\INCOMING\July24\MSI Submission\Fn Email.doc