The Governmental System of Peru

By Graham H. Stuart; Carnegie Institution of Washington | Go to book overview
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Beginning with the estatuto provisional promulgated by General San Martin in 1821, every constitution of the Peruvian republic has specifically provided for ministers of state. In fact, the provisions covering the ministers of state as found in the constitution of 1823 are not fundamentally different from those found in the constitution of 1920. Although most of the early constitutions were very brief in their provisions regarding the ministers, leaving to congress the organization of the administrative departments, no law was passed on the subject until 1856.1 This law was very materially altered by the law of September 26, 1862, and since that time a number of other laws have been passed making slight alterations. However, the laws of 1856 and 1862 still remain the two principal organic laws on the ministers.2As we have already seen, the ministers of state in Peru do not constitute a cabinet which is the real seat of governmental authority, as in the parliamentary systems of Great Britain and France. Neither are they merely advisers to the president and heads of the administrative department, as are members of the cabinet in the United States. However, they resemble the latter much more closely than they do the former, the principal difference being that they may appear before the congress, and are personally and collectively responsible for their acts to the congress as well as to the president.The functions and purpose of the ministers in the Peruvian system of government have been well summarized as follows:
1. To limit the personal power of the president, forcing him in all his administrative acts to work in harmony with the department concerned, and in exceptional cases to obtain the consent of the council of ministers.
2. To insure responsibility for the acts of the executive, who is practically irresponsible during his term of office, by creating at his side functionaries who must answer for any illegal acts of the government.
3. To give the president counselors who may aid him with their opinion and advice that he may perform the more effectively the duties of his office.
4. To give the president collaborators who may aid him in the tasks of the government.
5. To place at the head of the public services chiefs and directors who in cooperation with the president, or by themselves alone in some cases, may carry on their respective branches, and watch over and direct their subordinates in the exercise of their functions.
For a brief historical sketch of the establishment of the ministries see Pradier Fodéré, Compendio del Curso de Derecho Administrativo ( Lima, 1878), pp. 147-150.
For the text of these laws and subsequent modifications see G. U. Olaechea, La Constitución del Peru y Leyes Organicas ( Lima, 1922), pp. 413-437.


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