January 6 hearings shine a light on hard truths about democracy

Both parties claimed to defend each other’s democracy. Both appealed to the Peruvian military, which has traditionally acted as the ulti...


Both parties claimed to defend each other’s democracy. Both appealed to the Peruvian military, which has traditionally acted as the ultimate arbiter, almost akin to that of a supreme court. The public, deeply polarized, is divided. The army was also divided.

At the critical moment, enough political and military elites reported support for Mr. Fujimori he prevailed. They met informally, each reacting to events individually, and many appealing to different ends, such as Mr Fujimori’s economic agenda, notions of stability or a chance for their party to prevail in the new order.

Peru descended into quasi-authoritarianism, with restricted political rights and elections still held but on terms favorable to Mr Fujimori, until he was removed from office in 2000 over corruption allegations. Last year, his daughter ran for president as a right-wing populist, losing by less than 50,000 votes.

Modern Latin America has confronted several times such crises. According to many scholars, this is due less to common cultural traits than to a history of Cold War interference that weakened democratic norms. It also stems from American-style presidential regimes and a deep social polarization that paves the way for extreme political struggles.

Presidential democracies, by dividing power between competing branches, create more opportunities for rival offices to clash, even to the point of usurping each other’s powers. Such systems also blur questions of who is responsible, forcing their branches to resolve disputes informally, on the fly and sometimes by force.

Venezuela, once the oldest democracy in the region, has gone through a series of constitutional crises as President Hugo Chávez confronted with judges and other government bodies that blocked his agenda. Each time, Mr. Chávez, and then his successor, Nicolás Maduro, appealed to legal and democratic principles to justify the weakening of these institutions until, over time, the actions of the leaders, ostensibly to save the democracy, have anything but empty.

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Newsrust - US Top News: January 6 hearings shine a light on hard truths about democracy
January 6 hearings shine a light on hard truths about democracy
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