Congress and Executive Branch Deepen Differences and Spark Institutional Crisis
4 octubre 2019

On September 30, President Martín Vizcarra dissolved the Legislative Power, prompting Congress, dominated by an opposition majority, to suspend him on the grounds that he is “morally unfit”. On Oct. 2, the legislative body replacing Congress, the Permanent Committee, ruled to ask the Constitutional Court to decide on the legitimacy of the suspension of Congress, a resolution which could be given in three to six months.

This conflict between the powers was stepped up last week after the Legislature endorsed the appointment of a series of candidates to be Constitutional Court judges. The Executive Branch maintained that the nominations were not made with the institutional seriousness required by this office. Faced with this situation, Vizcarra presented a bill updating the appointment process and proposing a vote of confidence to speed its treatment. The vote of confidence is a tool whereby the executive requests the legislature to endorse the cabinet of ministers to continue governing. If Congress does not approve it, this enables the mandate of the legislators to be terminated.

However, Congress approved the vote of confidence, and also advanced with the appointment of one of the judges. Vizcarra understood this situation to be a denial of trust and dissolved the Legislative Power. Congress is now accusing Vizcarra of having carried out an institutional coup against democracy, while he maintains that the Congress is no longer functional to democracy because it obstructed his government agenda for the personal benefit of the legislators. The dispute is posed in terms of the legitimacy of the actions, which will be resolved by the Constitutional Court, a decision which could take between three to six months.