Radical Civic Union

The Radical Civic Union (Spanish: Unión Cívica Radical, UCR) is a centrist social-liberal political party in Argentina. The party has been ideologically heterogeneous, ranging from Social liberalism[11] to social democracy. The UCR is a member of the Socialist International.

Radical Civic Union

Unión Cívica Radical
PresidentAlfredo Cornejo
Chamber LeaderMario Negri
Senate LeaderÁngel Rozas
Founded21 June 1891 (1891-06-21)
Split fromCivic Union
HeadquartersAdolfo Alsina 1786, Buenos Aires
Think tankAlem Foundation[1]
Student wingFranja Morada
Youth wingJuventud Radical (JR)
Membership (2012)2,270,665 (2nd)[2]
Social liberalism[4]
Social democracy[5][6]
Political positionCentre[7][8][9] to centre-left
Centre-left to Left-wing (1891-1916)
National affiliationCambiemos
Continental affiliationCOPPPAL
International affiliationSocialist International (JR suspended from IUSY)[10]
Colors     Red      White
Seats in the
Chamber of Deputies
40 / 257
Seats in the
12 / 72
3 / 24

Founded in 1891 by radical liberals, it is the oldest political party active in Argentina after the Liberal Party of Corrientes. For many years the party was either in opposition to Peronist governments or illegal during military rule.[12] The UCR's main support comes from the middle class. Throughout its history the party has stood for free elections, supremacy of civilians over the military and liberal democratic values. Especially during the 1970s and 1980s it was perceived as a strong advocate for human rights.[5][13] By May 2014, the UCR had 42 Deputies and 14 Senators.


The party was a breakaway from the Civic Union, which was led by Bartolomé Mitre and Leandro Alem. The term 'radical' in the party's name referred to its demand for universal male suffrage, which was considered radical at the time, when Argentina was ruled by an exclusive oligarchy and government power was allocated behind closed doors.[3] The party unsuccessfully led an attempt to force the early departure of President Miguel Juárez Celman in the Revolution of the Park (Revolución del Parque). Eventually a compromise was reached with Juárez Celman's government. Hardliners who opposed this agreement founded the current UCR, led by Alem's nephew, the young and charismatic Hipólito Yrigoyen. In 1893 and 1905 the party led unsuccessful revolutions to overthrow the government. With the introduction of free, fair and confidential voting in elections based on universal adult male suffrage in 1912 the Party managed to win the general elections of 1916, when Hipólito Yrigoyen became president. As well as backing more popular participation, UCR's platform included promises to tackle the country's social problems and eradicate poverty. Yrigoyen's presidency however turned out to be rather dictatorial; he refused to cooperate with the Congress and UCR in government fell short of the democratic expectations it had raised when in opposition.[3] The Radical Civic Union remained in power during the next 14 years: Yrigoyen was succeeded by Marcelo T. de Alvear in 1922 and again by himself in 1928. The first coup in Argentina's modern history occurred on September 6, 1930 and ousted an aging Yrigoyen amid an economic crisis resulting from the United States' Great Depression.

From 1930 to 1958 the Radical Civic Union was confined to be the main opposition party, either to the Conservatives and the military during the 1930s and the early 1940s or to the Peronists during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was only in 1958 that a faction of the party allied with banned Peronists (the so-called Intransigent Radical Civic Union, founded in 1956) came back to power, led by Arturo Frondizi. The growing tolerance of Frondizi towards his Peronist allies provoked unrest in the army, which ousted the president in March 1962. After a brief military government, presidential elections took place in 1963 with the Peronist Party banned (as in 1958). The outcome saw the candidate of the People's Radical Civic Union (the other party's faction) Arturo Illia coming first but with only 25% of the votes (approximately 19% of the votes were blank ballots returned by Peronists owing to their party being banned). Although Argentina experienced during Illia's presidency one of the most successful periods of history in terms of economic performance, the president was ousted by the army in June 1966. Illia's peaceful and ordered style of governing — sometimes considered too "slow" and "boring" - was being heavily criticized at the time.

During the 1970s Peronist government (1973–1976), the Radical Civic Union was the second-most supported party, but this didn't actually grant the party the role of being the political opposition. In fact, the Peronist government's most important criticisms came from the same Peronist Party (now called Justicialist Party). The UCR's leader in those times, Ricardo Balbín, saluted Peron's coffin (Perón had died on July 1, 1974 during his third mandate as president) with the famous sentence "This old adversary salutes a great friend", thus marking the end of the Peronist-radical rivalry that had marked the pace of the Argentine political scene until then. The growing fight between left-wing and right-wing Peronists took the country into chaos and many UCR members were targeted by both factions. The subsequent coup in 1976 ended Peronist rule. During the military regime many members of the UCR were "disappeared", as were members of other parties.

Between 1983 and 1989 its leader, Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín, was the first democratically elected president after the military dictatorship headed by generals such as Jorge Videla, Leopoldo Galtieri and Reynaldo Bignone. Alfonsín was succeeded by Carlos Saúl Menem of the Peronist Justicialist Party (PJ).

In 1997 the UCR participated in elections in coalition with Front for a Country in Solidarity (FREPASO), itself an alliance of many smaller parties. This strategy brought Fernando de la Rúa to the presidency in the 1999 elections. During major riots triggered by economic reforms implemented by the UCR government (with the advice of the International Monetary Fund), President de la Rúa resigned and fled the country to prevent further turmoil. After three consecutive acting presidents assumed and resigned their duties in the following weeks, Eduardo Duhalde of the PJ took office until new elections could be held.

After the 2001 legislative elections it became the second-largest party in the federal Chamber of Deputies, winning 71 of 257 seats. It campaigned in an alliance with the smaller, more leftist FREPASO. The party has subsequently declined markedly and its candidate for President in 2003 gained just 2.34% of the vote, beaten by three Peronists and more seriously, by two former radicals, Ricardo López Murphy of Recrear and Elisa Carrió of ARI, who have leached members, support and profile from the UCR. In the 2005 legislative elections, the UCR was reduced to 35 deputies and 13 senators, but remains the second force in Argentine politics.

Current status

Ahead of the 2007 election the remaining Radicals divided, between those who wanted to find an internal candidate and those who wanted to back a candidate from another movement, mostly former economy minister Roberto Lavagna, supported by former president Raúl Alfonsín.

In May 2005 the National Committee of the UCR, then led by Ángel Rozas, intervened (suspended of authorities of) the Provincial Committee of the UCR in Tierra del Fuego Province after Radical governor Jorge Colazo spoke in favour of Kirchner's reelection. The intervention was rejected by the Provincial Committee.[14]

A party convention held in Rosario in August 2006 officially rejected the possibility of alliances with Kirchner's faction of Justicialism and granted former Party President Roberto Iglesias the permission to negotiate with other political forces. This led to several months of talks with Lavagna.[15]

The continued dissidence of the Radicales K prompted the intervention of the UCR Provincial Committee of Mendoza on 1 November 2006, due to the public support of President Kirchner by Mendoza's governor, the Radical Julio Cobos. The measure was short-lived, as the Mendoza Province Electoral Justice overturned it three days later. Deputy and UCR National Committee Secretary General Margarita Stolbizer stated that the party is virtually "broken due to the stance of the leaders who support the alliance [with Kirchner]".[16][17]

Roberto Iglesias eventually resigned the presidency of the party in November 2006 due to differences with Lavagna, having reached the conclusion that an alliance with him would be a mistake, and joined Stolbizer's camp, maintaining that the party should look for its own candidate (the so-called Radicales R).[18] On 1 December 2006 the National Committee appointed Jujuy Province Senator Gerardo Morales as its new president. Morales stated that he wanted to follow the mandate of the Rosario convention (that is, looking for a possible alliance with Roberto Lavagna).[19]

Morales went on to become Lavagna's running mate in the presidential election of October 2007, coming third. Although this campaign represented the mainstream of the national UCR leadership, substantial elements backed other candidates, notably the Radicales K. Cobos was elected Vice President as the running mate of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner through the Plural Consensus alliance, and several Radicals were elected to Congress as part of the Kirchners' Front for Victory faction. The official UCR ranks in Congress were reduced to 30 in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies and 10 in the Argentine Senate.

In recent years the UCR has been riven by an internal dispute between those who oppose and those who support the left-wing policies of Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her husband and predecessor Néstor Kirchner. However, most Radicales K support for the Kirchners ended by mid 2008, when Vice President Julio Cobos opposed the Government bill on agricultural export taxes. He later rejoined UCR, becoming a prominent figure in the opposition, despite being still the Vice President.

The UCR joined the Civic and Social Agreement to run for the 2009 elections. The loose coalition obtained 29% of the national votes and came a close second to the Front for Victory and allies national outcomes. The Party's reorganization, as well as the 2009 elections, resulted in a gain of party representatives in the National Congress.

In 2015, the UCR formed a coalition with the Centre-right Republican Proposal to form Cambiemos. The Cambiemos won the presidential election, which ended its 14 years of opposition. The alliance with Republican Proposal was criticized by the Socialist International and the Young Radicals (UCR's youth wing) were suspended from the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY).

Provincial factions

The UCR has become fragmented politically and geographically. Besides the interventions in Tierra del Fuego and Mendoza, already in September 2006 the party leaders had admitted that they reviewing requests of intervention against the provincial committees of Río Negro and Santiago del Estero.

In Santa Fe the UCR has teamed up with the Socialist Party to support Socialist candidate for governor Hermes Binner, in exchange for the vice-governorship, taken by the former governor Aldo Tessio's daughter, the fiscal federal Griselda Tessio, winning the 2007 elections.

Leaders of the UCR

The Party is headed by a National Committee; its President is the de facto leader of the party. A national convention brings together representatives of the provincial parties and affiliated organisations such as Franja Morada and Radical Youth, and is itself represented on the National Committee.

Presidents of the National Committee


See also

Further reading

  • Alonso, Paula (2000). Between Revolution and the Ballot Box: The Origins of the Argentine Radical Party. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77185-4.


  1. "Relanzamos la Fundación Alem". www.ucr.org.ar. 16 November 2017.
  2. Estadística de Afiliados, Primer Semestre 2012 Archived 2013-01-18 at the Wayback Machine, Registro Nacional de Afiliados a los Partidos Políticos, Cámara Nacional Electoral.
  3. Anderson, Leslie E. (2010), Social Capital in Developing Democracies: Nicaragua and Argentina Compared, Cambridge University Press, p. 72
  4. Godio, Julio; Robles, Alberto José (2008), El tiempo de CFK; entre la movilización y la institucionalidad: El desafío de organizar los mercados, Corregidor, p. 65
  5. Sabatini, Christopher (2005), "Advocacy, Ideology and Partisanship: Human Rights in the Electoral Arena", (Un)civil Societies: Human Rights and Democratic Transitions in Eastern Europe and Latin America, Lexington Books, p. 272
  6. Lamb, Peter; Docherty, James C. (2006), Historical Dictionary of Socialism (2nd ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 286
  7. Flood, Patrick J. (1998). Greenwood (ed.). The Effectiveness of UN Human Rights Institutions. p. 59.
  8. Domínguez, Jorge I.; Shifter, Michael (2013). JHU Press (ed.). Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America. p. 132.
  9. Bolton, Kerry (2014). Black House (ed.). Peron & Peronism. p. 158.
  10. De Tapa, Pirulo. "Diario". p. 12. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  11. Storani, Federico (1998), "Legitimacy and Transition in Latin America: Social Forces and the New Agenda of Consensus", Argentina: The challenges of modernization, Scholarly Resources, p. 51
  12. "Radical Civic Union." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 Nov. 2006 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9389399>.
  13. Ameringer, Charles D. (1992), "Argentina", Political Parties of the Americas, 1980s to 1990s: Canada, Latin America and the West Indies, Greenwood Press, p. 25
  14. Clarín, 8 May 2005. UCR: Colazo zafó de la intervención.
  15. La Capital, 27 August 2006. Los radicales se marcharon de Rosario con el corazón partido.
  16. Clarín, 1 November 2006. La UCR intervino el partido en Mendoza por "desacato".
  17. Página/12, 5 November 2006. Los radicales K tienen hoy su congreso propio.
  18. Clarín, 14 November 2006. Se agrandan las divisiones internas en la UCR: renunció el titular del partido.
  19. Clarín, 1 December 2006. Morales quedó al frente de la UCR y crecen las posibilidades de un acercamiento a Lavagna.

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