As anticipated Peruvian Socialist elect president Pedro Castillo was unable to gain control of the one-house Congress, which on Monday chose the candidate of an opposition-led alliance.
Castillo is scheduled to take office on Wednesday 28 July, Peru's Independence Day but the legislative vote is a formidable challenge to his pledges to reform the constitution and impose taxes on the mining industry.
Maria del Carmen Alva from the Popular Action party, won the congressional presidency for a full legislative year by 69 to 10, while a list of candidates proposed by Castillo's Free Peru movement was rejected on procedural issues.
The lack of a political parties bill has meant that the Peruvian congress has a raft of parties, with no single majority, and a tendency to form circumstantial alliances on specific issues. Ms Alva received the support from the conservative Popular Force party led by Keiko Fujimori who lost the presidency to Castillo on a 6 June run-off, accusing electoral officials of condoning vote fraud.
Castillo, a community teacher, won support from the poor and rural Peru that never saw the benefits of a Peruvian booming economy trickle down, promising to tax the mining industry to help pay for education and improved health system. Peru has one of the worst records when it comes to Covid 19 deaths, contagions and insufficient vaccines.
However Castillo is a close ally of Vladimir Cerrón a neurosurgeon, ex governor of a Peruvian region, indicted for bribery, who did post graduate studies in Cuba, and is an admirer of the Castro brothers and Venezuelan regimes, and helped start the winning Free Peru party of the president elect.
Since winning the runoff Castillo has spent most of his time pledging that Marxist Cerrón will not be part of his administration, not even as an advisor, that his administration will not copy any foreign model, and has called on leaders of other parties to have an alliance to facilitate governing. If the Congress presidency vote is a signal, it does not seem he has convinced them.
Likewise the political and business elite of Peru do not profess sympathy for Cerrón and many of the ideas put forward by Castillo. To start with the drafting of a new constitution needs special majorities in Congress and increasing taxes on mining will need a lot of patience and negotiations. And not to forget that the previous legislative, also highly atomized, deposed four presidents, be it because of corruption allegations or simple incompetence.
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