How many militants do the Peruvian political parties have?

It needed to know what percentage of the electoral population is active in political parties with active registration with the National Elections Jury (JNE). As far as I can remember, the percentage of militancy in the country was very low, but I really didn’t think it was that low. In the 1989 book “Perfil del Elector” (Profile of the Voter) it is mentioned that 5% of the electoral population of Lima was a member of a political party. Then, in a survey I conducted in 1997, I found that, in Lima, only 4.8% admitted to being part of a party.

Now, with the wave of democratization, it was possible to think about a change, about the possibility that political parties would be able to incorporate citizens into their organizations and enable the growth of new political leaderships and, most importantly, in my opinion, institutionalize a party system.

The reality is that the parties despite bringing together 983,607 citizens, that is, 5.43% of the national electoral population as of March 2008. This figure reveals a poor citizen base in the structure of the parties and makes explicit the issue of the crisis of the system of political representation and the ineffectiveness of building a party system.

What is happening is not a new issue, but rather reinforces the idea of the divorce between citizens — political parties and the state. This is particularly true when we observe that the political parties have a Lima base, because they are concentrated in that electoral place and because they have not been able to articulate an idea of political community with the other departments of the country, hence the absence of political parties in the formulation of regional agendas. It could be said that they are made to the dead in non-electoral times.

In the regions and provinces, the regional movements have a majority, nor do they have a relevant participation in the local conjunctures, and they do not wage a political struggle against anti-system and subversive groups; in the case of Lima, their degree of activity is less limited, focusing their actions in parliament – those who have representation – and doing some type of activism for the new ones and those who maintain their registration in the register of political parties.

This is particularly serious because it shows that the Peruvian political system does not have the institutional channels for the articulation and aggregation of interests, that is, the filter through which social demands are channeled to express themselves in the political space is lacking.

And even more seriously, it calls into question the common belief that the Peruvian Aprista Party is the most organized party in the country. The reason, the list of militants presented to the National Jury of Elections not only shows that they have 302,747 members, which makes them the party with the most militants, but also presents a series of data that shows a degree of mismatch in their internal organization.

Otherwise, how do you explain that 25,281 registered IDs have not been found on the electoral roll? Or that, in 20,339 cases, there are differences between the DNI and the Electoral Register. Or that, in 7,209 cases, citizens who were already registered with other political parties have been found. This last piece of data shows the famous “chameleons” of Peruvian politics, those who are accommodating themselves according to the conjunctures and remain — or try to do so — at the heights of the power structure. That is, the usual upstarts.

Undoubtedly, the problem is not only one of numbers, it is also one of institutionality, of the absence of recurrent practices in the exercise of the party function, converted today into mere electoral labels, which are activated only for those dates and then slumber until the next electoral process. For this reason, new leaderships are not generated, among other reasons, because young people do not find in political parties the spaces for their development.

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