The constitutional commission of Peru’s Congress approved Friday a proposal to return to the bicameral system with 14 votes in favor, six votes against, and two abstentions. If it is approved by Congress in an upcoming plenary session, it would be the third proposal to be given the green light of the four anti-corruption proposals sent by the executive ahead of a referendum scheduled for December.
Peru’s Congress will have 130 deputies and 50 senators. Originally, president Martin Vizcarra proposed a bicameral congress with 130 legislators, 100 deputies, and 30 senators. The reform also stipulates that candidates for the Senate must be Peruvian by birth and at least 35 years old, while candidates to the chamber of representatives must be at least 25 years old.
The two constitutional reforms that have congressional approval thus far are modifications on the National Judicial Council (CNM), which appoints and dismisses judges and public prosecutors, and the regulation of financial contributions to political parties.
On Sept. 18 Congress unanimously approved the legal ruling to reform the CNM, which will become the Junta Nacional de Justicia, or National Board of Justice, and change the way its members are elected.
Members of the National Board of Justice will be selected by a special commission led by the public defender, the general attorney, the president of the judicial branch, the comptroller general and the president of the constitutional tribunal through a public contest based on merit. The reform also stipulates that the board will have to present an annual report of its activities before Congress.
On Sept. 26 Congress approved the modification of article 35 of the Constitution which regulates the finances of political organizations establishing audits, controls, and establishes penalties for political parties that accept illegal contributions.
The only proposed reform that hasn’t been debated by Congress’ constitutional commission is one that would eliminate reelection for legislators.
Peru’s executive branch expects Congress to approve all four anti-corruption reforms by Oct. 4, the deadline to call for a national referendum by Dec. 9. President Vizcarra presented these constitutional reforms in response to a corruption scandal within top judicial bodies.
In July, several controversial recordings revealed embezzlement, kickbacks, and corruption within high circuits of Peru’s judicial system prompting massive protests against systemic government corruption. The scandal led Vizcarra to fire his justice minister, to the dismissal of all members of the CNM, and the four reforms currently under debate.