December 9, 2018 / 4:08 PM / 2 months ago

Peruvians back anti-corruption reforms in referendum: exit poll

Lima (Reuters) - Peruvians showed strong support in a referendum on Sunday for political and judicial reforms introduced by the new President Martin Vizcarra to target corruption in one of Latin America’s most promising economies, according to an exit poll.

Peru's President Martin Vizcarra votes during a referendum on judicial and political reforms in Lima, Peru December 9, 2018. Peruvian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The proposed reforms were announced in August following a series of corruption scandals involving high-ranking officials and politicians, and were reluctantly approved by a unicameral congress dominated by the opposition.

A total of 24.3 million eligible Peruvians were registered to vote on proposals including the regulation of political party financing, and the overhaul of the appointments system for judges and prosecutors, that were spurred in part by an influence-trafficking scandal in July.

According to an exit poll conducted by Ipsos Peru for private station America Television, 87.1 per cent approved regulating the financing of political parties, while 85.0 percent approved of judicial reform.

A third proposal, to ban the immediate re-election of lawmakers after a five-year term, was backed by 85.2 per cent of voters.

But a fourth, which proposed creating a second chamber in congress, was rejected by 85.1 percent, according to the exit poll, which said it had a 5.5 per cent margin of error.

Vizcarra had backed all the proposed reforms except the latter, which he said had been “distorted” at the last minute by members of the current congress who he said had sought to seize legislative control from the executive in favor of the new chambers of deputies and senators.

Participation in the referendum was mandatory, under penalty of a fine.

Vizcarra took office in March after the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski amid accusations of corruption.

If the exit poll results are confirmed, it will be a big political victory for Vizcarra over the powerful Conservative opposition led by former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. She was detained in October in connection with allegations that her party received cash from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht for its 2011 campaign.

“Today Peru won. We have a lot of work to do to bring well-being to all Peruvians,” Vizcarra wrote on Twitter late on Sunday. “The task is great, but we have the strength and commitment backed by all to put Peru first.”

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Daniel Wallis

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