PERU: REELCTION MANUEVERS CIRCUMVENTING DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

Created: 11/12/1998

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Intelligence Report

Office of Asian Pacific and Latin8

Peru: Reelection Maneuvers Circumventing Democratic Institutions

Summary

While two-term President Fujimori has refused to confirm publicly that he plansagain inand his

allies are doing all1 iney can lo pave lhe wayonstitutionally questionable thud terra, politicizing and circumventing democratic institutions in the process.3 Constitution allows two consecutive presidential terras, but Fujimori's supporters claim his first docs not count because it began before the current consriiution took effect

by Fujimori'svoted down an opposition attempt toublic referendum on whether the President can run again and has changed the voting rules for the electoral tribunal to enhance the influence of pro-Fujimori members. It has also passeddubiousa probe into claims lhat the national voter registry has been politicized.

Fujimori's apparent single-minded pursuit of reelection is damaging public confidence in Peru's democratic institutions, which polls show is already low. Facing sagging public approval ratings, he will probably resort to even more heavyhandedas expanding his use of the intelligence services to underminethe election nears.

The weak and divided political opposition may look to the international community for assistance, such as political consultants, election observers, and political pressure on Fujimori to respect the democratic process. I

ease

While two-term President Albertoresent) says publicly that he has not decided whether to run again1

]hc is taking steps to ensure the option remains opcrry

Stacking the Deck

Fujimori and his allies have stepped up efforts in the last two years to remove institutional and legal obstacleseelection bid.ongress, which is dominated by Fujimori'sucva Mayorfaew Majority,NM) political movement,aw stating lhat the limit of two consecutive terms set forth in3 Constitution could not be applied retroactively to Fujimori's first term, which beganarlier this year, the Supreme Courtonstitutional Tribunal1 ruling that Fujimori could not run again. Although the Constitution is vague on which body has the ultimate authority on this issue, the Tribunal was unable to dispute the decision because Congress impeached the members lhat opposed Fujimori's reelection. Congress has since taken other steps to keep die President's options open:

In July, Congress changed voting rules for the electoralbody that would adjudicate any legal challenge to Fujimori'senhance the influence of pro-Fujimori members,

next month, the electoral tribunal squelched the opposition's best hope forhird run ai die presidency by Fujimori when it ruled that Congress could decide whether toublic referendum on theNM legislators subsequently overcame strenuous opposition to vote theillion signaturesetition in supporteferendum.

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consiiDjiionaiiiy. Congress passed legislation in March curtailing the authority of the National Magistrates Council to investigate wrongdoing by judicialending that body's probe into charges of politicization at the national voter registry. *"

The voterominally independent agency, has been plagued by allegations of politici/ation and other wrongdoing:

The most serious charges include the allegation thai SIN agents infiltrated the agency in preparation for possible fraud in0

The aborted Magistrates Council investigation discovered that,onstitutional0 military and intelligence officers were on the voter rolls, lending credence to opposition claims lhat members of the securityone of the President's keyvoted illegally in5 election. The security officials were later purged from the rolls.

Politicizing the Security Services

13 Conitiiuoon, like nine unlet LMiB American cotiftitaUoiu, prohibits all*eauirymililaiy, national police, andvoting.

some reporters claim to have been threatened and even

Poor Prognosis for Peru's Political Parties

Peru's political party system has deteriorated significantly over the last decade:

reputation of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria AmericanaRevolutionaryeru's "mass" party and still itstarnished by the corrupt and incompetent Alan Garciawhich presided over Peru's worst economic crisis this centurylittle success against Peru's leftist insurgencies.

he party has been unable lo distance itself from Garcia since his term ended.

Similarly. Accidn Popular {Populareru's second-largest party, has yet to shake the legacy of President Fernando. An economic downturn midway through hisby Latin America's debthis apparent inability to address the insurgencies that began under his administration undermined his credibility.

Many leftist parties remain riven by ideological divisions and were stained iny their occasional unwillingness to condemn categorically the insurgencies.

Fujimori views political panicsn obstacle to honest and effective government. Hisucva Mayoriaew Majority) coalition remains little moreoosely-organized movement through which Fujimori implements his agenda. Fujimori formed8 to promote his own political fortunes, and founded Nueva Mayoria2 to broaden his political base.

Lima Mayor Alberto Andrade ran5 as the bead of the grassroots(We Are Lima) organization, and has more recently tried to takenational under the moniker Somos Peru (We Areresidential runomos Peru did not perform wellraces outside of Lima in October's municipal elections,it has yet to develop broader appeal. T |

Several of the independent political organizations that have emerged since there largely vehicles for personal political ambitions and lack the ideological foundation and party structure that characterize longlasting. stable institutions:

physically assaulted and lhat many journalists, disturbed by accounts of harassment, have begun to censor their stories to avoid the administration's wrath.P

Divided Opposition Poses Little Challenge

Even though public resistance to another term has been consistently high during the past year, the weak and disorganized opposition political parties are not currentlyosition to block the President's reelection:

Most opposition parties were largely discredited by their inability to deal with the economic and security crises of, and the public's disdain for them is underscored by the large number of independent candidates that ran in the presidential election5 and municipal elections in October.

LongsUnding partisan divisions hamper the ability of the more thanpposition parties represented in Congress to block ot influence the administration's initiatives.have been unable toredible alternative to Fujimori's agenda.

Moreover, the opposition has exhausted all apparent legal avenues tohird run for the presidency. I-

Opposition politicians, human rights groups and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) will have to overcome their intense partisan and parochial differences to agreeonsensusmost effective means tohirdchallenge Fujimori in0 election:

Lima Mayor Andrade. leader of the independent Somos Peru (Wc Are Peru) movement, is widely seen as Fujimori's most likely rivaln September, however, he disavowed any presidentialto enhance his prospects for winning reelection aswould have to work hard toational following.

Opinion polls suggest thathree-way race between Fujimori, Andrade, and any otheras perennial candidate Javier Pe'rez deopposition vote would split, allowing Fujimori to emerge as the top vote getter, f

-

Seeta*

Fujimori Pulling Out All the Stops

Given his actions io dale. Fujimori appears willing to remove or circumvent any perceived obstacle to his reelection, regardless of the damage done to democratic institutions. He may calculate that, if he takes tough measures now, the controversyhird term will have subsided by the time the campaign gets under way in earnest next year

With his popularity slipping, he is likely to grow increasingly reliant on the SIN, be even less tolerant of public reproach, and continue to depend on threats and harassment to silence his critics.

Political opponents and domestic commentators warn that the SIN will gather intelligence under the guise of law enforcement to scrutinize and harass presidential opponents more

In addition to his more questionable efforts to set the stage for reelection, Fujimori is also likely to target social and infrastructure spending to shore up his support in the next two years:

His decision loongtime finance and economy minister with former tax agency head lorge Baca in June was widely seenignal that he plans to prime the economic pump in the runupn economic downturn due to worsening global economic conditions would constrain the administration's ability to do this, however.

The El Nino reconstruction committee,reliminary budget of5 million, could easily be exploited for pork-barrel projects.

Fujimori mighi also use the Ministry of the Presidency to advance his reelection plans. Formed during Fujimori's first icnn to address pressing social needs, it has evolveduper-ministry lhai controls someercent of the national budget androad range of responsibilities, including infrastnicture and regional development programs.

Despite his apparent determination tohird term. Fujimori's evident concern witheneer of legitimacy may actrake on his antidemocratic impulses, preventing him from breaking completely with democratic convention. Domestic publicif Fujimori hopes tohirdserveurb. Polls reflect public disapproval of blatantly authoritarian actions such as the President's moves against the press. Nonetheless, such negatives may be offset by the President's handling of other issues; for example, his popularity surged when he

ard line against Ecuador duricg heighiened border tensions in August and after the successful hostage rescue operation at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in

The record shows that the international community's reaction can occasionally influence Fujimori's behavior, albeitesser degree than domestic opinion. While Fujimon is willing to buck international opinion if he perceives the stakes arefor example, in2 decision to close Congress and thealmost certainly recognizesegative reaction from the Organization of American States. Rio Group, and other regional organizations to any blatantly undemocratic actions would have implications for foreign investment and Peru's stature intin American community. Fujimori is anxious to attract US and other foreign invesunent and tncs to portray Perutable country, and he might, therefore, be receptive to warnings of decreased financial assistance from international financial institutions. I I

Nevertheless, he is unlikely to sacrifice his ambition for reelection for the sake of the iniemauonal community. At best he may temper his methods in response to international pressure.

Im plications for the United States

The willingness of Fujimon and his supporters to manipulate Congress, the judiciary, and electoral procedures to ensure that the President can run again undermines the consolidanoo of democracy in Peru. Fujimori's machinations arc almost certainly contnbuting to the erosion of the legitimacy of democratic institutions in the eyes of the public, which alreadyow opinion of most government institutions, as shown by various polls. The damage he will probably do to his image and public confidence in Peru's political institutions inhird term may limit his effectiveness, possibly prompting him to use more autocratic measures to implement policies. 1"

Opposilion parties and domestic NGOs have already appealed to such groups asof American States to press the Fujimori admiwsirauon to respectand civil rights, and further entreaties to international organizationsgovernments including the United Stales arc likely atpposition politicians may ask such international aclnrs for technicalhow to strengthen existing parties or how to establish new ones Peru'sombudsman -an independent official charged with defending both civilbenefited from financial and technical support frominstituuons and NGOs. Additional foreign aid could facilitatecontinued efforts to educate the public about democracy and

Such activities might, however, if widely publicized, antagonize Lima and reduce its willingness to cooperate with foreign governments and inleraauonal insutuuoru. Earlier this year. Congress briefly debated declanng the US Ambassador persona non grata after he made public remarks the administration interpreted as critical, f

A Word of Caution About Public Opinion Polls

While most Peruvian opinion polls show that the President's popularity is sagging under (he weight of opposition to another term, suchthose cited in thisgenerally limited to large cities and do not reflect his support among the rural poor and indigenouskey political base Moreover, although newspaper criticism of Fujimori is widespread and both reflects and influences elite opinion, readership is relatively limitedountrypcn:eni adult illiteracy. Peru's three leadingComercio, La Republka anda combined daily circulation of lessillion copies, while leading weekly newsmagazine Cureiasirculation of

Hy contrast,illionol5 millionarticipated in the last presidential election Votingin Peru, but press reports suggest authorities rarely enforce penaltiesvoting

Appendix: Changing Dynamics of Fujimori's Inner Circle

Fujimori's recent hcavyhanded moves and subsequent low public approval ratings have stemmed in part from his highly centralized leadership style:

The media and political opposition have criticized him for what they describe as authoritarian tactics, noting that the President's inner circle encourages his use of such practices.

|apparcnt inadequate staff work,

Hinmon's proclivity for pou'iicking at the expense of studying issues, his aversion to political parties, and his heavy dependence on public opinion polls for feedback are factors lhat have contributed to his poor

The unexpected resignations in the fall6 of two key members of his innerfacto chief of staff and presidential brother Santiago Fujimori and Presidency Minister Jaimeto have left Fujimori without advisers able or willing to provide him with forthright, politically savvy advice:

Santiago was Use President's only candid in-house critic.r

With his brother's departure. Fujimori lost anonsistency to staff work and who was apparendy good bureaucratic check on senior appointments, decrees, and international financial;

Yoshiyama was flexible, pragmatic, knowledgeable, and one ofulflcials who could make die government work acrossincreasing the

transparency and modernization of politicalfor which the opposition and media vehcmenUy criticize the administration.

With his inner circle shrinking and the recent replacement of Army Commander Hermoza, Fujimori is left with national security adviser and de facto chief of the National Intelligence Service (SIN) VJadimiro Moniesinos as his primary adviser:

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