Peru’s congress on Wednesday voted down another bid to advance elections from April 2024 to this year, a move sought by President Dina Boluarte to calm unrest that has left dozens dead in seven weeks of anti-government protests.
After five hours of debate, lawmakers rejected a bill that would have advanced elections to December by 68 votes to 54, with two abstentions.
The president’s office said on Twitter it regretted the vote and vowed it will soon present another bill to hold general elections this year.
Peru has been embroiled in a political crisis with near-daily demonstrations since December 7, when then-president Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.
In seven weeks of demonstrations, 48 people – including a police officer – have been killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the human rights ombudsman’s office.
Roadblocks erected by protesters have caused shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities in several regions of the Andean nation.
Demonstrators demand the dissolution of Congress, a new constitution, and the resignation of Boluarte, who as vice president took over with Castillo gone.
In December, lawmakers moved elections, originally due in 2026, up to April 2024, but as protesters dug in their heels, Boluarte called for holding the vote this year instead.
Two previous bills to advance the election have also faltered in Congress.
Boluarte said that if it failed a third time, as it did Wednesday, she would propose a constitutional reform allowing a first voting round to be held in October and a runoff in December.
According to a survey by the Institute of Peruvian Studies, 73 percent of citizens want elections this year.