Can Peru’s Kuczynski Overcome a Hostile Congress and Recapture Public Support?

Can Peru’s Kuczynski Overcome a Hostile Congress and Recapture Public Support?
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski waves during a military parade celebrating the country’s Independence Day, Lima, Peru, July 29, 2017 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

LIMA, Peru—After little more than a year in office, Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, faces an uphill battle to realize his agenda of ramping up economic growth in order to reduce poverty and follow through on other campaign promises. Can PPK, as he is known in Peru, deliver?

Kuczynski has faced some unexpected challenges over the past year. His administration was forced to funnel approximately $6.2 billion of federal funds into reconstruction of areas devastated by El Nino-linked floods in March, which Kuczynski says reduced economic growth this year by 2 percent. The administration is also struggling to restart major public works projects that it halted following revelations that the company executing them, Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht, bribed public officials for contracts. However, beyond his own limited political skills and diminishing public support, the greatest obstacles hindering Kuczynski’s presidency may be the opposition-led Congress.

Despite having won last year’s election by the slimmest of margins, Kuczynski initially enjoyed the support of an ample majority of Peruvians. The 78-year-old president is dynamic and intelligent, a former World Bank economist, mining executive and investment banker who made millions in the private sector before running for office. He assembled a Cabinet of technocrats with comparable corporate experience, arguing that an effective government needs good managers. But their collective business acumen and experience have been of little use in helping the administration navigate Peru’s treacherous political waters, or address the concerns of many of its citizens.

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