A bill that seeks to curtail the discretionary power of heads of state to dissolve Parliament being able to dissolve Congress and call for new legislative elections has sparked controversy within Peruvian lawmakers.
In a scenario where President Pedro Castillo does not hold a Parliamentarian majority and might face repeated obstructions from the opposition, right-wing legislators are pushing for an amendment to the constitutional norm which empowers the Executive to request the confidence of the Cabinet at any time and in any form, as set forth by the Constitutional Court when ruling out any modification that would affect the essence of the balance of powers, since Parliament has the power to dismiss the president.
Both cases have come to happen. Former President Martín Vizcarra dissolved an obstructionist Congress dominated by Fujimorism and other right-wing versions, only to be ousted by the ensuing legislature.
Faced with the opinion of the Constitutional Court, the opposition intends to pass a “law of authentic interpretation” to limit the so-called question of trust only to situations in which essential policies of the Executive are at stake.
Justice Minister Aníbal Torres and law scholar Omar Cairo, point out that modifying the terms of the request for confidence requires a Constitutional reform, which takes time and a congressional majority of two thirds, which the opposition does not have.
Torres pointed out that the project attempts to apply changes that could indirectly affect the principles and rights that, if modified, would introduce disorganization and incoherence.
Constitutional reforms must also be analyzed in light of the principles that guide the interpretation of the Constitution, which have been defined by the Constitutional Court, he explained.
The president of the Constitution Commission, Patricia Juárez, in turn, maintains that the project seeks to correct a situation of ‘imbalance of powers’ through the interpretation of Article 132 of the Constitution and denies political objectives to the proposal.
Parliament intends to speed up the appointment of the replacements of the majority of the members of the Constitutional Court, who have expired and who approved the previous opinion and appoint new ones who give the green light to “authentic interpretation.”
The draft under discussion, for the constitutionalist Omar Cairo, is contrary to the Magna Carta and affects the Executive-Legislative balance and contradicts the TC case-law.
The text under discussion establishes that the Government may not request trust in cases in which it ties it to a constitutional reform project or any issue that Parliament considers to be within its jurisdiction. With this, this project or prediction does not restore the balance of powers, but affects it, said Cairo, recalling the previous ruling that does not place limits on requests for trust.
What they want to do is suppress what was indicated by the supreme interpreter of the Constitution, they want to interpret the maximum interpreter, he asserted in a deliberate redundancy.
If the project is successful, Parliament will be able to deny its discretion to ministerial cabinets, which would be a weapon of constant destabilization and, according to Cairo, would leave the Government defenceless before the power of Congress to remove the president for the vague cause of “permanent moral incapacity,” an idea which was reportedly targeted at Prime Minister Guido Bellido.
Meanwhile, Congress Speaker María del Carmen Alva has denied allegations from the ruling party that she has an “undemocratic and coup-minded attitude.”
President Castillo's supporters have been claiming that the opposition was seeking to remove him from office and destabilize democracy.