A view of the Congress building in Lima, Peru, September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo
As deadly protests rage across Peru, a political battle is unfolding inside the halls of Congress, walled off from the streets by hundreds of police, armored vehicles and a maze of gates.
Lawmakers are at loggerheads over whether to hold a snap election this year following the Dec. 7 ouster of leftist President Pedro Castillo part-way through his term, an event that sparked weeks of protests that have seen 48 people killed.
Despite the violence, and despite polls that show the majority of Peruvians want the election brought forward, Congress appears to be in deadlock. At least three election bills have been rejected and others knocked back before being debated in the past week, with parties on the left and right apparently unable or unwilling to compromise.
“They fight like they’re in a street market,” said Juliana Gamonal, 56, a food delivery person in Lima. “We don’t have good leaders right now, everything is for their benefit, not for the people.”
Reuters spent the last week inside the 130-seat Congress in capital Lima, talking to lawmakers to ask why Peruvian politics seems to be in such a mess. Tensions between lawmakers were high, often boiling over into shouting matches.
A number of issues underpin the dysfunction.
Primarily, the Congress is unusually fragmented. It has 13 different voting blocs, caused in part by rules that allow a group of five lawmakers to easily create a new one. The two largest parties have just 24 and 15 seats respectively, making it hard to reach majorities needed for legislation.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter