Voting begins in Peru on anti-corruption constitutional amendment

Voting begins in Peru on anti-corruption constitutional amendment

Peruvians will vote today in a constitutional referendum aimed at curbing widespread corruption, a key initiative of President Martin Vizcarra.

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Photo: Associated Press

Peruvians will vote today in a constitutional referendum aimed at curbing widespread corruption, a key initiative of President Martin Vizcarra. Voters are asked to approve four reforms—ending consecutive re-election of legislators; tightening campaign finance rules; new ways for judges to be appointed; and bringing back the upper house in the currently unicameral congress.

Vizcarra’s predecessor, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was forced from office in March amid a bribery scandal involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. In October, the main opposition leader, Keiko Fujimori, was jailed over money-laundering and illegal campaign finance charges. They are casualties of a massive corruption dragnet originating in Brazil which, given the cross-border financial and political networks, have continent-wide implications. In Peru, four of the last five presidents are now under investigation.

With Vizcarra untainted by the corruption scandal and currently enjoying an approval rating of 60%, voters are expected to overwhelmingly approve most reforms on the referendum. However, green-lighting another house of congress may prove beyond the pale, given widespread disgruntlement with politicians.

The main threat to Vizcarra is a chastened congress, still controlled by Fujimori’s Popular Force party. He needs them to pass reformist legislation; however, with public backlash inevitable if Popular Force attempts to block today’s results, they are unlikely to put up a fight.

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