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  • New Chair of Congress Luis Iberico

    New Chair of Congress Luis Iberico | Photo: Agencia Andina

Lacking congress members, the ruling Nationalist Party did not present a candidate for the position and have been unable to form coalitions with other groups.

A right-wing and socially conservative politician took hold of the reigns of Peru’s Congress on Monday.

Luis Iberico from the right-leaning and socially conservative bloc, the Popular Christian Party - Alliance for Progress was sworn after winning Sunday’s elections for the chair of Congress. Iberico was also the candidate of choice of far-right parties Popular Force and APRA.

All three parties openly embrace neoliberal policies as their economic platforms. While Popular Force and APRA have been directly connected with past corruption scandals. The Popular Force party has a history of human rights violations.

In Sunday’s elections, Iberico obtained 70 votes from the 125 congress members present. The other candidate, Vicente Zeballos, the preferred option of the ruling party only obtained 55 votes.

Popular Force is the party of former head of State Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving in jail for massive corruption and crimes against humanity.

Popular Force is also the party of the daughter of Fujimori, Keiko, who leads in the polls for presidential elections that will take place next year. APRA is the party of former president Alan Garcia, who is under current investigation for corruption cases in particular for deals with imprisoned drug traffickers.

A number of his close APRA party members have been sentenced to prison, are fugitives or are under investigation.

The first, second, and third vice-presidential seats were won by Natalie Condori from Dignity and Democracy Party, Mariano Portunal from Regional Union, and Luis Gallarreta also from Popular Christian Party – Alliance for Progress respectively.  

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Seven Congress members from Possible Peru, a party with close ties with the one of President Ollanta Humala, voted anonymously, giving them the option not to support the ruling party this time. Possible Peru spokesmen, Renan Espinoza, only stated that the party voted for “the option that guarantees democracy in Peru.”

Another seven Congress members with the ruling party coalition, Gana Peru, also voted anonymously, while Congresswoman Celia Anicama voted for Iberico, abandoning the ruling party. Anicama announced she will join Dignity and Democracy Party.

“I wanted to respect the agreement with Gana Peru,” she said, adding “I stayed until after the election with them and then I presented my resignation because I consider I no longer belong to the Nationalist party.”

She is the latest of more than 10 congress members who have abandoned the president’s party with many of them citing policy disagreements as the reason. With her departure, Gana Peru is left with 32 members in Congress as the second largest group in the institution, following Popular Force with 35 members.

Iberico claims one of his main tasks is to improve public opinion of Congress. The latest poll by CFK released on Monday shows Congress performance is only rated positively by 17 percent of Peruvians and 71 percent disapprove of their work.
The other branch of government, the judiciary has almost identical ratings in the CFK poll with a 17 percent approval rate and a 70 disapproval rate.

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