LIMA – Polling places closed in Peru’s referendum on political and judicial reform at 4:00 pm on Sunday, with many voters also casting their ballots in the second round of the elections for the governors of 15 of the country’s regions.
More than 24 million Peruvians were eligible to vote in the referendum on the control of the campaign financing, non-immediate re-election of lawmakers and reforming the National Justice Board, a selection council for judges that has been marred by scandal.
According to initial exit polls, Peruvians delivered a resounding win to the government of Martin Vizcarra by approving the reform of the National Justice Board, controlling campaign financing and prohibiting lawmakers from immediately running for re-election, but they rejected forming a parliament made up of two chambers.
Forming the National Justice Board received “yes” votes from 87.1 percent of the public, while controlling campaign finance was approved with 85 percent and the immediate re-election of lawmakers rejected with 85.1 percent in favor of that option, the exit polls said.
Of the country’s eligible voters, more than 9 million were also be able to participate in the run-off votes for governors in 15 of Peru’s 25 regions.
One of the first people to cast his ballot on Sunday was Vizcarra, who arrived at his local precinct in the southern Moquegua region, more than 1,100 kilometers (about 680 miles) from Lima.
The president of the National Elections Board (JNE), Victor Ticona, said in a message to the public that his organization is committed to guaranteeing the legality of the referendum and the run-offs.
He said that the JNE will see to it that the results “are the faithful reflection of the popular will” and called upon citizens to contribute to strengthening democracy by casting their ballots.
He also urged political organizations and the public to conduct themselves in a “measured” manner on election day and to respect the official results.
Authorities said that 60,000 National Police officers would provide security throughout the country during and after the balloting, with the polls slated to close at 4:00 pm.
Vizcarra proposed the referendum on July 28, after a huge network of corruption was discovered in the judiciary, a scandal that sparked tremendous outrage among the public, already highly disturbed by the reach of the Odebrecht scandal – Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal – into the top echelons of power.
Vizcarra, who last March replaced Pedro Pablo Kuczynski as president after the latter resigned due to the Odebrecht scandal, promised the public that he would fight corruption, a task in which he has faced significant opposition by the Fujimori-backing majority in Congress.
Because of the Odebrecht scandal, the Peruvian Attorney General’s office is currently investigating former Presidents Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan Garcia (1985-1990, 2006-2011), Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) and Kuczynski (2016-2018), as well as former presidential candidate and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, who is in prison.