The Colombian government suffered a setback on the first day of the new
parliamentary year, when both the House of Representatives and Senate
voted different presidents than previously agreed upon with the government.
In 2006, at the start of Uribe’s second term and
when this Congress began to legislate, political pacts rotating the
presidency of both houses were agreed and until Monday respected. The
government sought to rotate the presidency of Congress every six
months, thus allowing the large number of coalition parties to all have
a share of one of the Houses’ presidencies.
The two congressmen who were to preside over the Senate and the House the coming six months,
Gabriel Zapata (Alas Equipo Colombia) and Miguel Amin (Partido de la
U), had the full backing of the government, but instead of respecting the coalition pact, the Senate elected Javier Caceres
(Cambio Radical) as president and the House elected
Edgar Gomez (Convergencia Ciudadana) as its
before the election Liberal Party’s spokesman, Juan Manuel Galan, said
that his party backed the election of Caceres as a way to express
rejection for the re-election referendum that still needs to be
reconciled between a group conformed by members of both houses of
Lawmakers defended the breach of the agreements claiming the government has not complied with several promises made to Congress.
These elections against
government wishes do not necessarily mean the break up of the
coalition in Congress. However, it may represent more difficulty for
pieces of legislation such as the re-election
referendum to be passed. Moreover, this legislative period may set the
rules for the 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections.