Peru to Revive Senate 30 Years After Fujimori Abolished It

(Bloomberg) -- Peru’s fragmented congress formed a supermajority to resuscitate the Senate three decades after it was abolished in the wake of then-President Alberto Fujimori’s decision to dissolve the entire legislature.

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Lawmakers on Wednesday voted 91 to 31 to change the constitution and revive the Senate. They approved another reform that will allow lawmakers to seek immediate reelection, which was previously prohibited.

The congress previously voted in November to recreate a bicameral legislature, but needed to approve the same proposal a second time in order to cement the change. Because it received support from a super majority of lawmakers, it will not require a national referendum, but President Dina Boluarte needs to sign it into law.

Proponents of the reform say it will help reduce political instability in a nation where congress has regularly flexed its powers to impeach presidents. No elected leader has completed a term since 2016, and Boluarte is the nation’s seventh president since the start of that year.

“It’s not a panacea, but it will begin to mean a substantive change to improve this branch of the state,” lawmaker Eduardo Salhuana said ahead of the vote.

Read More: Peru Makes Unexpected Move That May Limit Impeachment Turmoil

For most of its history, Peru had two legislative chambers. The Senate ceased to exist in 1992, however, after Fujimori illegally dissolved congress and rewrote the constitution to include only one house of congress.

The reconstituted senate will have 60 members elected in general elections slated for 2026. Half will be elected from a single national voting district, with the other half coming from individual districts.

In 2018, 91% of Peruvians rejected the proposed creation of a Senate in a national referendum. During the current debate, some lawmakers argued that the reforms were being done over the will of voters and that a fresh referendum would provide legitimacy for both the recreation of the Senate and the reelection provision.

“To be absolutely honest, what people understand is that, beyond any political or theoretical debate, the goal here is to reelect the current members of congress,” lawmaker Guillermo Bermejo said.

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