Peru’s Congress approves return to bicameralism after 30 years 

By March 12, 2024

Lima, Peru — In a historic session on March 6, Peru’s Congress took a significant step towards constitutional reform by approving a return to a bicameral parliament after 30 years of unicameralism. 

The reform would leave behind Peru’s current unicameral congress, which consists of 130 legislators, and establish a bicameral parliament with a Senate (60 senators) and a Chamber of Deputies (130 deputies). Both senators and deputies would serve five-year terms and could subsequently be re-elected. 

The measure was approved with 91 votes in favor, 31 against, and three abstentions.

The reform won’t come into effect until July of 2026, the same year when general elections in the country are scheduled. 

The proposal, led by Congresswoman Martha Moyano of the right-wing Fuerza Popular party, received widespread support from different political forces. According to Moyano, the reform aims to strengthen democratic institutions and improve the quality of Peru’s political class. 

Many of Peru’s recent political leaders have been jailed for corruption, and squabbling between the executive and legislative branches has negatively impacted the strength of Peru’s democracy, leading to dismal approval ratings from the citizenry. 

Read more: Root causes of Peru’s political unrest: An interview with a protest leader

“Unicameralism was necessary in its time and served to have a more agile Congress, to provide quick and effective measures needed to combat terrorism, hyperinflation affecting the economic and social life of the country. Today, 30 years later, what our time demands is a more reflective Parliament, with more debate, and that allows us to reconnect with the population,” Moyano said during the parliamentary session on March 6.

Martha Moyano. Image coutesy of ANDINA.

Parliament President Alejandro Reyes said that, “The country is being given the opportunity to have greater national representation both in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Chamber of Senators,” and that with this change, “the drafting” of laws will be improved, “which implies going through a filter that necessarily has to occur in the Chamber of Senators.”

Those who opposed the measure, mostly representatives from the Marxist Peru Libre (Free Peru) political party, argued that the decision to return to bicameralism should not have been dictated by a widely disapproved congress. 

According to a February Datum survey, 86% of Peruvians disapprove of Congress. Additionally, they emphasized that the population expressed its rejection of the return to a bicameral system in the 2018 referendum.

Following Congress’ approval, the constitutional reform will be sent to President Dina Boluarte for promulgation. As it is a constitutional reform, the measure cannot be observed or vetoed by the president.

The Peruvian Congress has its roots in the Constitution of 1823. Originally, it adopted a bicameral structure. However, this order was interrupted by President Alberto Fujimori’s coup in 1992, which led to the promulgation of the current Constitution in 1993.

Since then, the Peruvian legislative system has been composed of a unicameral Congress.