through censure, impeachment, and votes of no confidence. In practice, however, the legislature has not
played an autonomous role. Seldom has the Congress had the opportunity to function as a forum for
debate over major policy issues, or as a vehicle for the representation of citizen interests. As a result,
public confidence in Congress remains low.
The 1993 Constitution also reduced the legislature from two chambers to one unicameral Congress with
120 members who represent a single electoral district. Peru's Congress was never a showcase of
representative government. But the change from multiple districts to the
has further diluted
voter representation in the legislative branch. In 1990, there was one member of Congress for every
30,000 voters. In 1995, the ratio rose to one per 111,345 voters, or 206,675 residents per Congressman,
the highest ratio in the Andes. Since the unitary district was adopted, provincial representation in
Congress has decreased, while Lima's influence rose disproportionately.
In 1990, 165 of Peru's 240 provinces were represented in Congress, holding 69 percent of the seats. As
of the 1995 elections, only 68 provinces are represented (56 percent of the seats). The lack of
proportionality widens the gap between citizens and the political process and reinforces public
perceptions that Congress does not represent its interests. It also keeps campaigns focused in Lima.
unintended consequence of the unitary district is that it has revitalized the push to strengthen
municipalities to compensate for the absence of regional interest representation at the national level.
Legislative Decision Making, Debate over Public Policy
Peru's Congress falls short of the ideal deliberative body. Fujimori's Cambio 90/Nueva Mayoria alliance
holds a majority in the Congress, 67 members out of 120
. Congress is authorized to pass legislation in
one of three ways: by initiating and passing laws, by granting legislative authority to the Executive, and
by passing emergency decrees that originate with the Executive. Since 1995, Congress has favored the
latter two alternatives, either accepting legislation put forward by the Executive or granting the President
authority to legislate, with little deliberation. From 1995 to 1999, half of all legislation was issued by the
Executive, given extraordinary powers by the Congress.
Congress has a mixed record with respect to basic rules and procedures. Innovations in procedural
operations in recent years have permitted greater transparency and public information regarding the
legislature's inner workings. Following recommendations developed by the
Comision de Modernizacion
(1995), in 1998 the Congress obtained an electronic board for its chamber floor, to
indicate how members voted on legislation. Congress has also used the Internet to disseminate
information about legislative proceedings, maintains a web site that monitors the progress of bills and
other legislative actions when Congress is in session, posts transcripts of daily debates, lists initiatives
A team member visited Piura, where complaints were heard about the region having been all but ignored during
the campaign by all candidates except Fujimori, who had visited the department repeatedly, inaugurating public
works marked by huge signs bearing the President's likeness.
The pro government alliance Per 2000 currently claims 57 of the 120 new congressional members elected in
April 2000, just four votes short of a new majority.
These laws are also the most significant. In its first report to Congress, the Peruvian Defensoria del Pueblo
criticized the tendency of the Congress to delegate legislative functions to the executive. Santistevan de Noriega,
Primer Informe del Defensor del Pueblo ante el Congreso de la Rep blica
, 1996 1998. Lima, Peru:
Defensor del Pueblo:, 1998, p. 668.
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