introduced by congressmen, and offers a subscription based online library. In recent years, Congress has
also held more open hearings and brought in experts to testify at them.
Despite these improvements in information flow, however, deliberation in Congress still leaves much to
be desired. On some issues, Congress has permitted open debate, for example, in regard to recent
environmental and domestic violence laws.
In such cases, the debate tends to center on issues that are
peripheral to Fujimori's main, non negotiable agenda, which has included his own re election as well as
protection of the military from accountability for human rights violations.
The Congressional majority has also shown disrespect for the minority in opposition. In fact, the
majority has earned a reputation for surprise laws, legislation introduced quickly and pushed to a vote
by the full body, bypassing debate. Parliamentary rules require only a single reading of a bill, which
means that legislation can circumvent committees and be brought to the floor for a vote. Congressmen
have called votes on major, politically charged laws early in the morning, when most opposition
members are absent.
On issues related to presidential re election, Congress has shown a propensity to
pass laws construed to violate the Constitution. Since the Constitutional Tribunal was disbanded, such
laws may be implemented without any review of their constitutionality.
So far, Congress has failed to take additional measures recommended by independent analysts to
strengthen legislative debate. It could stimulate a broader and more informed public debate over key
issues of public policy. It could reduce the number of legislative initiatives of minor importance.
Congress is known for initiating laws of commemoration and recognition, rather than laws of substance.
It could improve public information flow regarding the agendas of parties with parliamentary
representation. Finally, it could require a vote on whether a bill can be exempted from the normal
procedure and brought to an immediate vote by the full body in order to reduce surprise laws. Any of
these measures could improve the legislative environment and provide for more transparent and wide
Governance in the Executive Branch:
Cara Buena, Cara Mala
Peruvian analysts describe a
good and a bad face) of the Executive
branch. Elements of
include the legacy of an ambitious reform, which dismantled one of the
region's most inefficient states and created in its place a free market, more efficient economic
policymaking institutions, and a cluster of parastatal organisms that channel resources to needy areas.
Elements of the
include Executive predominance over the Judicial and Legislative branches,
the arbitrary exercise of executive power, the concentration of authority in the central government, the
relationship between the President and the Armed Forces, and the political use of parastatal agencies. So
Interview with Gabriel Ortiz de Zevallos, Instituto Apoyo, March 6, 2000.
An example of these surprise laws is one that modified city tax rates throughout the country. The law deprived
municipal governments of fiscal control and forced them into a subservient position vis a vis the central
government. Another example is the 1995 amnesty to civilian and military officials convicted for human rights
violations. The law was brought to a full chamber vote with no advance warning in the middle of the night on June
14, 1995, and signed into law by President Fujimori the next day.
Instituto de Defensa Legal
(IDL) compiled a list of nearly 100 laws or resolutions passed either by the
Congress or decreed by President Fujimori since the 1992
that are of dubious constitutionality or are
clearly unconstitutional. Instituto de Defensa Legal,
Trabajo Sobre Normas, Hechos Controversiales y Atentados
Contra la Libertad de Prensa
, unpublished background document, 1999.
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