Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) will celebrate his first year in power in late July. With an approval rating of 39 percent — not good by international standards but slightly better than his predecessors had at comparable times — PPK is having a difficult time dealing with the opposition in Congress. The 78-year old economist has little room to retake control of the political agenda. Negotiating with the opposition might be a risky alternative for him, but it is far better than a slow descent into irrelevance at a time when the economy needs to regain strength.
Having lost four ministers in the last six months, in the face of a hostile Congress, PPK’s biggest problems are all associated with the dismal legislative support he has. After he barely made it to the presidential election run-off, with 21 percent of the vote last year, PPK attracted the protest vote against Keiko Fujimori, the leader of Popular Force. She received 39.9 percent of the vote in the first round, but lost to PPK in the run-off by the slimmest margin (49.9 to 50.1 percent). Kuczynski became the new president on July 28, 2016, but Keiko ended up with 73 of the 130 seats in the unicameral
In the first few months, PPK and Keiko seemed to have a tacit cooperation agreement. Popular Force did not actively oppose PPK’s legislative initiatives. In that honeymoon period, the government passed fasttrack legislation intended to restore economic dynamism. But relations between the government and Popular Force had turned sour by the end of last year. Congress issued a vote of no confidence against the technically capable education minister, Jaime Saavedra and the former World Bank economist was forced to leave office after a successful tenure promoting education reform. The firing of Saavedra signalled that rougher times were ahead for PPK in his relations with Congress.
In the following months, three other ministers have been forced to resign. Vice-President Martín Vizcarra, who was appointed by PPK as Transportation minister, resigned before he could be impeached by Congress after an accusation of wrongdoing associated with the construction of the new Cusco Airport. Vizacarra, who retains his position as VP, now has no official duties. His departure was a severe blow to PPK, given Vizcarra’s technical capacities and his negotiating experience from his time as governor of the southern mineral and agricultural province of Moquegua.
To read more, please visit Buenos Aires Herald.