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Argentine Political Outlook (19-11-20) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-19-20, by Rosendo Fraga

1.The issue of power management between the President and the Vice President continues to be central in Argentine politics. The appointment of the mayor of Avellaneda, Jorge Ferraresi - perhaps the closest to Cristina in the Greater Buenos Aires and an overt supporter of Nicolás Maduro - as Minister of Housing and Habitat, shows that the first change of officials since the letter that Cristina made public on October 26, has been achieved in a relevant area in social policy. Former Minister María Eugenia Bielsa was considered an official responding to Alberto, not to Cristina. By the end of October, she had lost control of the plans for the illegal settlements that the Juan Grabois sector carried out. It will not be the last change in this direction. The most questioned official in the President's entourage in the sphere of Kirchnerism is the Chief of Staff, Santiago Cafiero. There are those who think that Aníbal Fernández could replace him. Politically, the decision to postpone from December 20 to March 20 -90 days- the appointment of the president of the PJ makes the aspiration of the "pro-Alberto" supporters that the President of the Nation occupy that position, be delayed. But Cristina's political offensive also reaches the president of the Lower House, Sergio Massa. The decision of the President of the Senate to reject the Budget bill that Alberto wanted to have approved last week as a sign of commitment to the Monetary Fund, not only weakened him, but Sergio Massa too as Speaker of the House, due to an unforgivable procedural error, which also raises discussions about the personal move by the Speaker of the House.


2.The Judiciary is another area where the interests of Cristina and Alberto compete. Kirchnerism has made Senator Edgardo Weretilneck's bill its own, who proposes - he already has a Commission office - to lower the number of senators required to appoint the Attorney General from 48 to 37 (from two thirds to a simple majority). But this bill adds something that the bill presented by Senator Parrilli does not contain: it simplifies the removal of federal prosecutors, another objective of Kirchnerism. The Presidency has insisted that Judge Daniel Rafecas is his candidate for the position, but he has publicly said that he will not accept if it is decided by a simple majority. This week the proposals of the commission of jurists designated by the Executive to submit reforms will be known. It proposes, like Kirchnerism, that the number of votes in the Senate be lowered to a simple majority to appoint the attorney and also that the number of members of the Court be increased: this is the direction in which Kirchnerism moves with precision. To this must be added that the contests that are opened with the ruling of the Court, that only temporarily put back two judges who had been appointed by the Macri government, opens the possibility of now filling 36 posts in the national justice system, at a time when Kirchnerism controls the Senate Agreement Committee, it has a majority in this House and a simple majority in the Council of the Magistrates. Some argue that as the Administration gets close to the one year in office (December 10), few legal cases affecting the Vice President have been closed. But in the cases of public works, the future dollar, the testimonies of the repentant in the notebooks case and others, decisions favorable to her are expected.


3.The adjustment that the Government is forced to make to agree with the Monetary Fund is a reason for divergences in the ruling party. The evidence is the claim presented by the block of senators from the Frente de Todos to the Monetary Fund to explain the relationship between the loan that it agreed with the Macri government and the intention to support it electorally. At the meeting of the IMF mission with the Minister of the Interior, Wado de Pedro, they pointed out to him that the main political concern of the organization regarding Argentina is the influence of the Vice President in decisions. De Pedro himself, who in political terms is Cristina's voice in the Cabinet, replied that was a "demonization." But the change in the pension update system, the increase in utility bills and the suspension of the IFE are the three most important measures that generate the highest resistance. The opposition social movements have already begun a plan to prevent the changes with a rally in the Plaza de Mayo on Saturday, November 14, and the pro-government movements have spoken out and anticipated protest measures. For its part, the CGT rejected the government's measure, anticipated protests and demanded a meeting with the President. To mitigate the negative effect of these measures, the Government extended until March the suspension of dismissals without a reason and the payment of double severance, aimed at calming the CGT. In relation to social movements, a double payment of the Universal Child Allowance and the Food Plan is proposed. This situation takes place when INDEC has reported that the October inflation was 3.8%, for food and beverages, it accounted for 4.8% and the basic food basket -which determines the poverty and extreme poverty line- it was 6%. The outlook is an increase in inflation in November and December, and this already exacerbates the claims.


4. Foreign policy, the pandemic and abortion complete the political scene. With the victory of Biden for the presidency, the Argentine government seeks a mediator role in regional conflicts. But in reality the approaches to China and Russia, the articulation and signing of the "Letter of Peace" between the populist governments of the region and the European left -which has led- put it in one of the two political poles of the region and not in an intermediate position. While it seeks to accelerate the vaccination against Covid-19 as a central policy to contain the infection - which in the world does not know when it will be able to be done en masse - the situation of Argentina's indicators continues to be very bad. Argentina ranks 10th in the number of deaths in the world and 6th in the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, although in Europe cases have increased in the context of the second wave of infection. As for those infected, the country is 8th in number worldwide and is the first in number of infected per 100,000 inhabitants of Latin America, with 2,932. On the other hand, the President wants to achieve the legalization of abortion before the end of year, but the Vice President had already let him know that there was no majority in the Senate to achieve it. There is still no direct communication between the two members of the presidential ticket, which is mediated through the president of the bloc of pro-government congress members, Máximo Kirchner.


5. To conclude: 

a. The power struggle between the president and the vice president shows the latter moves forward and climbs positions. 

b. This is the case in the Judiciary, where the parliamentary initiatives of the vice presidency are imposed and the battle for the Attorney seems to have been lost by the President. 

c. The tightening measures proposed by the Government to facilitate the agreement with the IMF generate resistance in unions and social movements, as Congress will decide on the pension adjustment. 

d. Despite the change in the US, the relationship with Washington does not seem to be easy and in the pandemic the situation in the international context continues to be very negative: it is the second country in the region in deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

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