Lord Bryce, in his observations on South America, divides all the republics into three classes of states:
The first consists of those in which republican institutions, purporting to exist legally, are a mere farce, the government being in fact a military despotism, more or less oppressive and corrupt, according to the character of the ruler, but carried on for the benefit of the executive and his friends. The second includes countries where there is a legislature which imposes some restraint upon the executive, and in which there is enough public opinion to influence the conduct of both legislature and executive. In these states the rulers, though not scrupulous in their methods of grasping power, recognize some responsibility to the citizens and avoid open violence or gross injustice. The third class are real republics, in which authority has been obtained under constitutional forms, not by armed force, and where the machinery of government works with regularity and reasonable fairness, laws are passed by elected bodies under no executive coercion, and both administrative and judicial work goes on in a duly legal way.1
Unfortunately, the eminent English writer in his illustrations classifies under these three groups only the outstanding examples, and Peru is not among them. However, the task would not be a very difficult one, although perhaps a rather delicate one for a foreigner. But we are spared the decision, for an eminent Peruvian publicist, quoting this same classification of Lord Bryce, declares that Peru unfortunately can not be placed in the third group.2 But what is more germane to our purpose, the same Peruvian writer gives as the reason for the lack of a real republican government in Peru the excessive powers wielded by the executive, the "presidential absolutism," as he calls it.
Whether we consider Peru throughout the historical development of the republic, or whether we consider the actual government as it functions today, it must be conceded that for all practical purposes the terms government and president are almost synonymous. Until 1872, Peru was ruled by military presidents, and the great names among them, Gamarra, Salaverry, Santa Cruz, Vivanco, Castilla, were military dictators--men who, as García Calderón naïvely remarks, "wished absolute power in order to make possible the future education in liberty." Even Manuel Pardo, Peru's first civilian president, a reformer who insisted upon governing by constitutional means, carried out his program of reforms in the same vigorous____________________