Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guatemala's ruling couple

Divide and rule

The president and first lady split up—leaving her free to run for office

TO AVOID the dynasties that have misruled many Latin American countries, Guatemala’s constitution forbids relatives of the incumbent president and vice-president from running for high office. This clause had seemed to scotch the chances of Sandra Torres, the country’s ambitious first lady, becoming its first presidenta. But on March 21st she and her husband, Álvaro Colom, announced a novel way to sidestep the rules: they filed for divorce.

Rather than being a sign of marital discord, the parting looks much more likely to have sprung from political unity. Speaking last month, Mr Colom gushed over his wife’s leadership skills and the “impressive passion” she inspired. On March 8th Ms Torres declared that she would run as the candidate of National Unity of Hope (UNE), her husband’s party. Candidates can register from May 2nd, and the election will be held in September.

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