Infighting in the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) has been heating up for some time and since the midterms, all hell has broken loose.
On Monday, the UCR’s future caucus in the lower house Chamber of Deputies split up, with a number of breakaway deputies confronting the party’s historic leadership.
Via an official communiqué, a group of incoming lawmakers responding to Emiliano Yacobitti (Buenos Aires City) proposed deputy-elect Rodrigo de Loredo (Córdoba) as caucus chairman, exposing a clear divide with their party allies proposing Mario Negri (also from Córdoba).
Congressional sources confirmed to Perfil on Monday that the group will have its own caucus in the Chamber of Deputies that will be commanded by De Loredo.
This 12-strong caucus will be called UCR Evolución and will be made up of Martín Tetaz, Emiliano Yacobitti, Carla Carrizo and Dolores Martinez (all City), Gabriela Brouwer de Koning (Córdoba), Victoria Tejeda (Santa Fe), Pablo Cervi (Neuquén), Alejandro Cacace (San Luis), Danya Tavela (Buenos Aires Province), Marcela Antola (Entre Ríos) and Martin Berhongaray (La Pampa).
Notably, the new grouping will have more deputies than the Coalición Cívica-ARI, the third part of the trident that makes up Juntos por el Cambio.
The move ramps up tension in the opposition coalition ahead of the swearing-in of newly elected lawmakers to Congress this Friday (December 10).
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Threats and crossfire
Threats of a split and the crossfire over the presidency of the Juntos por el Cambio coalition and above all, the Radical caucus led by Negri in the lower house, have been building.
The intention of forming a new Radical caucus had already been expressed by Yacobitti, who had also anticipated that “the only thing which cannot be broken up is Juntos por el Cambio,” indicating discontent with the party rather than with the wider opposition coalition.
Members of the new faction have been manifesting their discontent with Negri’s command, above all following his defeat in the Córdoba primaries by Luis Juez. Even though Negri’s leadership was recently ratified by 27 votes against 15 by those seeking a change, Yacobitti’s following – which have branded themselves “Renewal” – decided to separate from the caucus nevertheless.
"In Renewal Radicalism we are convinced that this election was an alert to the entire political leadership as to the difficulties facing our country, but at the same time an overwhelming support for the new incorporations which we imposed via the PASO primaries," read the statement from members of the new space, who are backed by Senator Martín Lousteau.
Elsewhere in the test, the deputies express their disagreement "with repeating the same spokesmen who have been expressing themselves in the name of the party for decades," saying that this is not about "names" but rather about "social representation" of Argentina as a whole.
"We have sought to persuade the deputies until the last moment in defence of the present and future of our party,” reads the statement. “We have no doubt that most Radicals, and even most recently elected Radical deputies, have heard the voice and mandate of the people: renewal. We must put an end to the distribution of posts based on personal relations and party infighting to become consistent with the thinking of the citizenry.”
In another passage of the text, they affirm: “Our responsibility is to promote that renewal instead of lamenting when phenomena emerge to capitalise on social discontent or to link up with youth,” in a clear allusion to strongly liberal and outspoken candidates who performed well in the midterm elections, such as Javier Milei and José Luis Espert.
Clarifying that the union of the opposition coalition must be the priority, the undersigned point out that "growth comes from recognising what has been expressed in the ballot-box, from designating authorities elected by a majority of the people and from becoming increasingly more federal."
They further sustain that “Argentines must see their vote reflected in the composition of caucuses and in the distribution of roles in Congress.”
From his Twitter account deputy-elect Tetaz spoke of "a new Radical voice" which will be reflected in Congress.
The breakaway Radicals will not leave Juntos por el Cambio but form a new caucus outnumbering the Civic Coalition. With this split Juntos por el Cambio will consist of PRO, the Civic Coalition, the UCR Radicals under Negri, UCR-Evolución, the group headed by Emilio Monzó and Margarita Stolbizer and the one-man caucus of Ricardo López Murphy.