The Republic of Peru operates as a presidential representative democratic republic and is based on a multi-party system, whereby the president (Ollanta Humala as of writing, 2012) is elected for a five year term and serves as both head of state and head of government. The legislative body is a 120-member elected unicameral Congress, and- though once a toothless body acting at the whim of the president- has undergone a notable increase in powers in recent years and serves as an important counterbalance to the executive branch. The Judiciary is independent of both the executive and legislative branches, and new strives have been made to reform its notoriously obsolete and corruption-ridden practices.
Peru's modern political history has been more a series of personality showdowns and political power struggles than an institution based on party platforms, though parties have sprung up and maintained a prominent place in the face of Peruvian politics since the 1950s.
Peru is in an ongoing state of democratization but has struggled to achieve the developmental progress of neighboring countries largely due to corruption and poor leadership, rendering the nation gravely impoverished and disposed to increased inequality. Peruvian politics have been continually compromised by corruption, with two of the last four presidents currently under investigation.
Remnants of the first major disappointment still linger after the erratic presidency of Alberto Fujimori, who was elected in 1990. Though the early years of his term looked hopeful and inspired a dramatic economic turnaround and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity, the president's increasing reliance on harsh authoritarian measures and economic decline in the late 1990s spawned rising dissatisfaction with his regime, contributing to its rapid decline. Fujimori resigned from office in 2000, fleeing to his native Japan as charges of diverting vast government revenues closed in on him. He later returned to South America and based himself in Chile during the 2006 Peruvian elections in an attempt to clear his reputation, but was quickly held by authorities.
Alejandro Toledo, GarcĂa's most recent predecessor and the first democratically elected Peruvian president of indigenous descent, later failed to make good on promises to both meet the needs of the poor and bring the country up to speed in light of globalization. Topping off his apparent inability to make any sort of progress, he is still under investigation for nasty scandals exposed during his term as president.
The presidential election of 2006 saw the return of GarcĂa who, after serving a less than impressive presidential term during the turbulent 1980s, returned to office with ideas for social reform and promises of major improvements of the economic situation. Thus far the government led by GarcĂa seems far more interested in neo-liberal strategies such as free trade, than in adopting policies aimed at reducing poverty and advancing Millennium Development Goals.
Peru turned down the opportunity to address these issues when it elected GarcĂa over the populist candidate Ollanta Humala, who shows greater interest in pro-poor policies and campaigned on the premise of bringing about a "revolution for the poor." But GarcĂa cited Humala's open support of Venezuelaâ€™s leftist president Hugo ChĂˇvez as dangerous for the independence of the nation and took the seat.
Under GarcĂa's presidency, economic progress has given Peru a more competitive edge among South American countries, but this has raised heavy concerns in many of their formerly claimed sustainable industries, such as agriculture, fishing, mining, etc...
But after Garcia's term, Humala was able to take the seat in the 2011 elections, convincing the public of the legitimacy of his policies without altering his stances on pertinent issues, though he chose to suppress public knowledge of his close relations with ChĂˇvez.
Poverty has been further exacerbated by the diversion of much needed national resources to deal with internal conflict caused by rebel groups such as the Maoist Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Though much progress in curbing violence was seen during Fujimori's presidency, the campaign was expensive and sporadic insurgencies have since plagued the nation. Drug trafficking and drug-related crime also remains a problem in Peru and involvement is often attributed to former members of these revolutionary groups.
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Social and Environmental Issues in Peru, Lori Berenson: An American Behind Peruvian Bars, The Economy of Peru, Inca Trail: Environmental Issues, The Peruvian Amazon Environmental Issues, The Shining Path and Environmental Issues Of The Colca Canyon.