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Deconstruction without reconstruction? The case of Peru (1978-2004)

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When Fujimori fell, all the democrats of the world sighed with relief, and the majority of them turned their eyes elsewhere. In doing so, they missed the equally important, though less flashy, second part of the story: anti-politics easily survived the fall of Fujimori, and continues to this day. If Fujimori showed that the preponderance of anti-politics and a critical undermining of the system of checks and balances could go hand-in-hand, his successors have demonstrated that it can also coexist with fully competitive elections. Furthermore, many of the themes, perceptions, and feelings that fed the Fujimori saga are still dominant in Peru's polity. This in fact involves three questions. First, was the Peruvian political system actually destroyed by Fujimori? Second, is the process of destruction of these groups so astonishing? Are we speaking about the demise of parties proper and of a real party system, or about loose clientelistic structures with no real roots in society, that should have disappeared anyway? Third, is it true that there has not been a full-fledged recovery? This paper argues that the existence of a stable party system depends on three crucial capacities. The capacity to maintain a technological superiority over competitors and new potential entrants, the capacity to express over long periods preferences and expectations of relevant social niches, and the capacity to link both the best 'political technologies' available and the preferences of social groups to a concrete experience of government. It shows how, in these three senses, the Peruvian DT parties were critically undermined, and discusses why the recovery has been so feeble.

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