In the first of two votes, Peru’s Congress approved legislation that would prohibit the immediate re-election of regional presidents and mayors, a move that supporters believe is necessary to curb corruption.
Congress voted 97 in favor, zero against, with 10 absentees, RPP Noticias reported.
Congressman Mauricio Mulder of the opposition Apra party said that one more voting session is necessary for the legislation to pass because “the constitution says that a constitutional amendment is made in two legislatures.”
That vote, however, must be made in the next legislature, which begins in March 2015.
Legislators argue that prohibiting the immediate or consecutive re-election in Peru’s regions and municipalities will help curb corruption by preventing crooked officials from holding onto offices for extended periods.
The introduction of the bill to Congress follows revelations of widespread corruption in local government in many regions of the country. Most of the current regional presidents are under investigation for corruption, while some have been detained while they await trial and at least one is on the run from authorities.
Political analysts say that corruption has flourished in the regional and municipal governments over the past decade due to the boom in government revenue from taxes resulting from a strong economy coupled with weak oversight to prevent the misuse of funds.
The National Elections Board chairman, Francisco Távara, congratulated Congress on the vote. Among the benefits, Tavara said, will be the rotation of power and the end of political tension triggered by the insatiable ambition of those who wanted to impose their re-election by undemocratic methods.
Peru’s Constitution already bars the country’s President from seeking consecutive re-elections. It has historically been prohibited, but the 1992 constitution written during the Fujimori administration made numerous changes and permitted re-election for one term. However, re-election was immediately prohibited again following the collapse of President Fujimori’s government just after he had been elected for a third consecutive term —on the argument that the new legislation was not retroactive and therefore his second term should be considered his first term under the new Constitution.