Argentina: VP Cobos joins opposition

boz notes that Argentine Vice President Cobos has announced that he will return to the Radical Civic Union (UCR) Party.

While this is a remarkable turn of events that I would not have anticipated, my position remains what I articulated after his high-profile vote in the Senate against a president-supported bill: I am surprised that major dust-ups between presidents and vice presidents are not more common.

And this is quite a dust-up.

boz notes that “The official statement from the government simply reminded Cobos that he has institutional duties.” Well, sure, but those institutional duties say nothing about what, if any, party he has to serve. Presidents and vice presidents may be nominated by parties, but they are institutionally autonomous from them (and each other!).

See also Two Weeks Notice.

0 thoughts on “Argentina: VP Cobos joins opposition

  1. I wouldn’t say I am surprised that it doesn’t happen more often, because we would normally expect a presidential candidate to choose the VP with a very close eye to his/her policy positions. However, I do wonder whether Cobos’ stand will represent a model for current and future VPs in Latin America. You, too, can become a prominent political figure by opposing your own president.

  2. I keep meaning to write about it, but VP Santos in Colombia has made some recent statements calling for the president to back down on some of his policies and rhetoric. He’s been positioning himself as a neutral party between the president, the opposition and the courts.

    It’s not quite a Cobos-level bombshell, but it is getting some attention as the VP takes a more independent role.

  3. Cobos hasn´t actually re-joined UCR, at least yet. The party leadership has already accepted to remove the sanctions against him (he had been permanently expelled from the party) and he´ll probably return to UCR, but I assume it will take a while to negotiate the terms. He is the party´s obvious presidential candidate for 2011, but he might quit as VP and run for a legislative seat in 2009. Besides, UCR is a devalued label and Cobos surely prefers to lead a broader electoral coalition.

  4. I’ve noted this on my blog. But Bolivia has had similar frictions between presidents & vps. In 1984, Paz Zamora moved his party into the opposition, but kept his seat as vp (the Siles Zuazo UDP government was a coalition of Siles Zuazo’s MNRI, Paz Zamora’s MIR, and a host of other center-left and leftist parties). In 2003, Mesa publicly withdrew is support for Sanchez de Lozada, but kept his seat (and days later became president).

  5. ‘[…] These divisions come forth from the presidential campaign of 2010, when many supporters of Noynoy Aquino proved less enthusiastic about his vice-presidential candidate, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. Both were on the Liberal Party ticket, and both have a strong family heritage in the party stretching back to early postwar years. Roxas’s grandfather, Manuel Roxas, was the first president of post-independence Philippines from 1946–48. His father, Gerry Roxas, was a party mate of Ninoy Aquino in the years before Marcos declared martial law in 1972. The younger Roxas was in fact a contender for the presidency in the lead-up to the recent elections, but stepped aside in favour of Noynoy after the death of Mrs Aquino in August 2009. He recognised the powerful swell of popular support in favour of a party mate (and senatorial colleague) who was seen as the rightful claimant to the Aquino mantle of leadership, and contented himself with the quest for the second-highest post in the land.

    Because the Philippine electoral system enables voters to cast separate preferences for president and vice-president, support for Aquino did not automatically translate into support for Roxas. Philippine politics is notorious for a high degree of ticket-splitting at the top, exacerbated further by political parties’ generally pronounced lack of coherent policy programs. Several months prior to the May 2010 elections, Mar Roxas was the odds-on favourite to grab the vice-presidency, enjoying an even greater lead over his rivals than did Noynoy. But his margin in the polls decreased as the election drew closer, in part due to a strongly anti-Roxas movement led by two politicians with their eye on the capturing the top post in the next presidential election of 2016. (In essence, the anticipation of competition in 2016 already influenced electoral dynamics in 2010 – particularly given that the winner in 2010 is constitutionally ineligible to serve a second six-year term after 2016.) […]’

    -Paul Hutchcroft, “The limits of good intentions: Noynoy Aquino one year on,” Inside Story – Current affairs and culture (30 June 2011).

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