THE PERUVIAN LABORATORY AND POLITICAL ATOMIZATION:
Efraín Gonzales de Olarte
The atomization of politics in Peru, shown in the recent congressional elections, with 21 political organizations competing for 130 seats in the congress, is a fact worthy of the greatest attention and concern, for its repercussions on governance and on the development of Peru.
This electoral process can be seen as a social experiment, almost a laboratory, which consists in how to choose 130 congressmen – for a year and a half – that represent the wishes, expectations, frustrations and hopes of more than 20 million voters. It is necessary, however, to take into account that the context, in which the elections were held, had four major components that have certainly conditioned the vote.
First, we come from a political crisis of representation, which concluded in the dissolution of the Congress of the Republic. Second we lived an unprecedented period of fight against corruption with prosecutors who have investigated the former presidents of the republic and some notable politicians. Third, the economy has begun to stagnate in part due to external factors – the US-China trade war – and internal factors, the relative inability of the government to execute its investment budgets, and finally we live in an atmosphere of citizen insecurity and violence of gender and criminal unpublished in Peru. With these big problems in mind, 21 electoral organizations were registered, of which maximum three could be accredited as “political parties”, the rest were organizations with electoral purposes, without doctrine, without organization, without all those attributes that are required to aspire to alter in serious politics.
Normally, serious countries have bipartisan systems, in some others they have up to four political parties or movements that aspire to govern, which allows us to propose great policy and governance orientations. But having 21 organizations, with a political system fragmented to the extreme obviously the electoral preferences no longer go through the great policy options – conservative, liberal, social democratic or socialist – but to the small needs of the population, which in the Peruvian case are many.
These “experimental” elections have shown us that insecurity is a big problem, that is why people have voted for the organization and for the leader who offers them security, for those who represent the forgotten and discriminated Peruvian who also has a religious ideology with a biblical ethic, but they have also voted for those who are unhappy with the economic model and political structures, which in the end propose “hard-handed” governments, that is, an important group of Peruvians do not believe in this state and want a more authoritarian. But, they have also voted for some organizations with some experience and with global proposals to govern Peru, one of which points to cheap and cardboard education, as a means of social ascent. In addition, these elections have punished politicians and their organizations that made congress a machine favorable to corruption, to low-law politics. This choice has thus been a process of social catharsis. Basically, all the proposals converge on the need for more State, but above all for a strong one in democracy. These elections tell us that Peru is fragmented to the extreme and since no one has achieved a majority beyond 10%, the question arises: is it possible that 10 political organizations can agree on a common agenda? We do not know, it is an unprecedented and interesting situation, almost a social experimental laboratory. I presume that a common agenda would be the list of promises of each group: fight against insecurity, inclusion policies for the less favored, especially in rural areas, continuity in the fight against corruption, more and better social policies – education and health – and greater efficiency and effectiveness of the state. It is an unknown if the necessary reform of the political system and its parties, and the mechanisms of future election can be approved quickly with this congress.
The government of President Vizcarra will have to tune into this agenda. However, this congress will not only be one year and more, but also this year begins the presidential campaign for the general elections of 2021 and there are several new congressmen who feel presidential. This makes me think that we will remain more or less the same, because too many scenarios are crossed and the time of this congress and the government is already short. Finally, in a situation of atomization of political representations and with enough improvisation, what will count is who are the representatives with their own name, somehow the most voted will count for possible agreements, rather than their platforms. When there are crises in which the institutions stop working, they are replaced by the notable ones, which in this case are the most voted.
I will return to the subject in a month, when we know the composition of the congress, the government has taken note of the results and Peru has digested these laboratory results. I cannot fail to recognize that despite all Peru is processing its crises while maintaining its democratic system, almost a miracle.