Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ex-Latin American Presidents Become Legislators

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced she is running for Senate, soon after creating a new party that may well split the Argentine left in the October elections.

Aside from the Argentine context, it's fascinating to see how it's common for former Latin American presidents to go into the legislature, even when they've been removed through means of dubious constitutionality.

It's not a natural choice. If you want to maintain political influence, then the legislature is a difficult place to do it. You are but vote, one voice amidst a cacophony. It's especially striking in a region with a strong presidential system. On the other hand, as an elected official you cannot be ignored the same way a former president with no official position might be. But does anyone think Alvaro Uribe really needs to a be a senator (which he is) to be influential? His senatorial position is secondary to his reputation.

Some of the answer may just be the personalization of parties. Kirchner created a new party, as did Uribe. Mel Zelaya joined a new party created precisely because of his ouster. If you're in a new party and it is focused on you, then it's harder to gain momentum if you are not deeply involved in the electoral process itself.


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