FILE PHOTO – Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra speaks during a television address to the nation, at the government palace in Lima, Peru May 29, 2019. Peruvian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS
LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s Congress was headed toward a confidence vote on the government on Tuesday that was summoned by President Martin Vizcarra in a bid to pressure lawmakers to pass his anti-graft proposals.
Debates began on Tuesday, with a vote expected late in the day. If Peru’s opposition-controlled Congress votes “no confidence,” Vizcarra could invoke a constitutional measure that would authorize him to dissolve Congress and call new legislative elections.
“It is urgent to save our democracy from corruption. It is urgent to prevent people who are guilty of criminal offenses from representing us. It is urgent to promote the strengthening of political parties,” Prime Minister Salvador Del Solar, a Vizcarra ally, said at the start of the debate.
Under Peru’s constitution, if Congress fails to grant a vote of confidence in a government twice, the president can dissolve Congress. The current Congress has already issued a vote of no-confidence once during this government — in 2017, when Vizcarra was vice president.
The heightened tensions between Congress and the president have ushered in a new period of political uncertainty in one of Latin America’s most stable economies.
Vizcarra’s threat triggered immediate cries of “coup” from allies of opposition lawmakers and could stir some debate over its legality, potentially distracting the government from efforts to mediate disputes over mining and oil operations and to pass a labor reform package.
Vizcarra’s proposals include measures aimed at cleaning up campaign financing, strengthening political parties and ending parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
But his political reform package has languished in committee discussions and the opposition has shelved or voted down other proposals.
Reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bernadette Baum