Furthermore, while the new government elected in May 2000 may have already pieced together a new
congressional majority, there is no guarantee that the new majority coalition will prove as cohesive as
was the case during the 1995 2000 period. Opposition parties hold a larger share of the seats in the new
Congress and have greater public support than in 1995 2000. These are potentially encouraging
developments. A larger and less fragmented minority could help to make the 2000 2005 Congress a
more important forum for public debate, a sphere for new leadership development, a source of initiative
for reform, and an institution that is at last capable of fulfilling its constitutional oversight functions.
Members of government and some Congressional leaders have indicated a willingness to discuss reforms
in existing electoral rules and in the size and structure of Congress. The litmus test of their sincerity will
be measured in both legislative process and output: whether lofty declarations translate into policy and
whether policy reflects a process of negotiation and compromise within the Congress and among
branches of government.
In this uncertain context,
the Team recommends conducting a formal sector
assessment for legislative strengthening and complementary civil society activities, after the new
legislature is convened
. This need not be a lengthy effort, but should be conducted by legislative
development experts from within and outside Peru. It should emphasize what strategic interventions can
address the main problem of legislative autonomy and checks and balances on state power, rather than
just the technical aspects of building the legislature as an institution. Such an assessment could be
coordinated by a prestigious national university or prominent nongovernmental organization.
Regardless of the balance of power in the new Congress, the Team also reiterates the abovementioned
recommendation of promoting debate about the merits and disadvantages of existing electoral rules and
structures of representation. Such efforts could constitute important steps towards overcoming both
political party and legislative weaknesses. Recent statements by officials regarding proposals to modify
the electoral rules are encouraging signals in this regard, although it is too early to tell whether these
pronouncements will translate into concrete legislative change.
Increased public recognition of the importance of the legislative sphere, and greater consensus
around an agenda of electoral and legislative reform. More specific legislative strengthening efforts
would depend on the outcome of the assessment.
The principal problem in this area is that the
broadcast media and portions of the print media
practice self censorship to avoid government retribution
, although there has also been a worrisome
increase in direct violations of press freedom and political harassment of independent media in recent
To date, press restrictions and self censorship have centered around such taboo issues as the structure
and behavior of the Armed Forces and the National Intelligence Service, official corruption and human
rights abuses, the legitimacy of President Fujimori's third term, and the plans and programs of the other
political parties and movements. Such limits on the full exercise of media freedoms inhibit the
competition of ideas, distribution of information, and the ability of opposition candidates to get their
messages to the public.
Self censorship is difficult to target with donor interventions, especially with those media
that are poorly managed, financially vulnerable, in arrears on taxes and social security contributions,
and/or are heavily dependent on government revenues. Current restrictions on foreign and national
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