On 1 July Uruguay’s foreign minister, Ernesto Talvi, announced his resignation.
Talvi is a key political figure in the ‘multicolour coalition’ government led by President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou. Although he had earlier in June mooted his departure before the end of the year, Talvi’s sudden decision to resign a day ahead of Uruguay assuming the pro-tempore presidency of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) has been interpreted as a sign of internal divisions within the multicolour coalition. Should Talvi now withdraw his political support for the government, this could create governability problems for Lacalle Pou.
- Talvi is the leader of the Ciudadanos faction of the right-of-centre Partido Colorado (PC), and ran for the presidency in last year’s general election on the PC ticket. After finishing third in the first round of the election, Talvi endorsed Lacalle Pou’s presidential bid for the centre-right Partido Nacional (PN, Blancos). This helped to seal the unprecedented electoral alliance between the PC and the PN, traditional rivals, which was critical for securing Lacalle Pou’s electoral victory.
- Talvi’s appointment to the foreign ministry was designed to underpin the PC’s political support for the Lacalle Pou executive and the loose multicolour coalition on which it relies to have a congressional majority. But there were signs that the relationship between Talvi and Lacalle Pou was tense, with Talvi himself recently revealing that he didn’t see himself remaining in the post of foreign minister in the medium term. Talvi said that he was prepared to resign but would only do so by common accord with Lacalle Pou.
- However, after presenting the issues that Uruguay intends to advance after it receives the Mercosur pro-tempore from Paraguay, due to take place today (2 July), Talvi publicly announced his resignation. Hours after taking part in the virtual Mercosur meeting, Talvi published his resignation letter on Twitter. In the letter, Talvi says that his intention was to remain as foreign minister until the end of the year, but that he “understands that the timings of the cabinet are determined by the president… it is not my intention to be an obstacle for his desire to name a foreign minister he considers appropriate”.
- Talvi’s remarks sparked intense speculation that he was unhappy with some of Lacalle Pou’s recent decisions. According to local media reports, Talvi clashed with Lacalle Pou over foreign policy objectives and some ambassadorial appointments. But reports that Lacalle Pou had chosen Francisco Carlos Bustillo Bonasso, Uruguay’s ambassador to Spain, as Talvi’s replacement, have been identified as the catalyst for Talvi’s sudden resignation.
- It is speculated that Talvi wanted to have a say in who his successor should be and that he was hoping that the portfolio would remain in the PC’s hands. However, Bustillo is a career diplomat with no known party affiliations.
Following Talvi’s departure from the cabinet, there are questions over whether the PC will continue to wholly support the Lacalle Pou government in congress. Without the PC’s full support, the Lacalle Pou executive could struggle to advance its legislative agenda.