strategies focus on media politics and electoral marketing rather than on the development of party
structures or specific governance proposals.
The significance of this combination of party actors for the future of democracy is still unclear. On the
one hand, the current party system favors a high degree of pluralism. On the other hand, the weakness
and fragmentation of these groupings reinforces the political weakness of civil society and provides a
fertile terrain for authoritarian populist leadership. This pre dates Fujimori and may persist well beyond
his last term of rule. The emergent movements are all small in size, personalist in nature, and virtually
nonexistent between elections. They have been largely ineffective at aggregating diverse interests into
clear programmatic and policy alternatives. Furthermore, proposals for legislation to reform the party
system have been thwarted in Congress since 1983, by both old and new parties and movements.
According to political scientist Fernando Tuesta, to date there has been an implicit pact among all
parties to avoid state involvement in this sphere.
In summary, the competition of ideas and potential leaders, and the representation and defense of citizen
interests in the public sphere, are basic elements of democracy. Theoretically, these should be the
functions of political parties. In its present form, however, the party system does not offer genuine
competition of ideas and serious governance options, and it has been virtually incapable of serving as a
counterweight to excessive Executive power.
The Media as an Arena for Competition
Although new movements are particularly dependent on the media for their existence, all candidates and
parties have had to adapt to the growing importance of the mass media in creating and sustaining a sphere
of public debate. The media play a key role in shaping public opinion, but it has also become
increasingly vulnerable to political control.
Since 1995, observers have watched with great concern as Peru's once free and vigorous media have
become increasingly subject to government intimidation. As a result, media owners and journalists have
engaged in considerable self censorship surrounding issues such as the human rights abuses, the structure
and behavior of the Armed Forces, and President Fujimori's possible third term. At the same time,
journalists still receive high public confidence ratings. For example, in a 1999 survey that compared
public confidence in 16 different actors and institutions, journalists ranked the fourth highest.
Fragility of the Sector
Most observers of Peruvian press freedom point to the financial fragility of this sector as one of the main
factors that facilitate political harassment. In Lima alone, 25 newspapers, eight non cable and numerous
cable television stations compete for the attention of the capital's seven million inhabitants and for the
limited advertising resources available. For most media owners, the last few years have not been
prosperous. Most commercial television stations have changed ownership and incurred large debts,
including tax debts and social security contribution arrears that are owed to the government.
Furthermore, dependency on government advertising revenues is extremely high for the non cable TV
stations. The government is the single largest advertiser in the country and experts estimate that in 1999
Interview with Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, Lima, July 3, 2000.
H:\INCOMING\July24\MSI Submission\Fn Email.doc