The new Argentine Congress tests the unity of the ruling Peronism | International

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Deputies during the oath to exercise for four years, today, in the Congress of the Nation of Argentina, in Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Deputies during the oath to exercise for four years, today, in the Congress of the Nation of Argentina, in Buenos Aires (Argentina).Chamber of Deputies Press (EFE / Chamber of Deputies Press)

The Argentine government is obliged to agree with the opposition to carry out laws in the next two years. This Tuesday the 127 new deputies elected in the November 14 elections were sworn in, and on Thursday the 24 new senators will be sworn in. All will assume their seats on the 10th. From then on, Peronism will maintain the majority in the Upper House but will lose the ability to impose the agenda alone, while the new composition of the Lower House will be dominated by an almost technical tie. between the ruling coalition, the Frente de Todos, with 118 legislators, and the opposition Juntos por el Cambio, with 116. Outside there are 23 deputies, divided into small parties, but whose vote will be key to reaching the majority of 129 required for the approval of almost all laws.

Dialogue will be essential outside the coalitions, but also within them. Within the ruling Peronism, there are marked differences between the Kirchnerist sector – who respond to Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – and those closest to the president, Alberto Fernández, or the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa. Kirchner, Fernández and Massa represent the three legs of the coalition of different currents of Peronism that has governed Argentina for two years.

In the Together for Change coalition, the divisions are even greater: the three parties that comprise it (Mauricio Macri’s PRO, the centennial Radical Civic Union and the Civic Coalition) will be divided into eight blocks. The internal divisions show the struggle that exists in the opposition center right for the presidential race of 2023. Two years after the general elections the desire of some leaders predominates to turn the legislative function into a showcase that promotes them. María Eugenia Vidal, Martín Losteau and Facundo Manes are some of the deputies who sound to compete in the primaries of Together for Change in 2023. Outside of Congress, the greatest aspiration is the head of Government of the city of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, and former President Mauricio Macri. The tensions within the two majority alliances have so far not generated any formal fracture, but will deepen as the elections approach.

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The first test of the new Congress will be the 2022 Budget, which has been in the lower house since mid-September. The Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán, will go to defend the bill on Monday and from then on the negotiations with the different heads of the bloc will be reactivated to reach a consensus on modifications that allow its approval. The Budget for next year foresees a growth of 4% and an inflation of 33%. The pro-government projections seem very optimistic next to those of organizations such as the International Monetary Fund: the entity chaired by Kristalina Georgieva reduces growth for the next 12 months to 2.5%.

The budget discussion is tied to a more complex one. Congress must approve the multi-year economic plan that President Fernández promised to send to the campus this week. The project will function as a roadmap in the negotiations that are advancing this week with the International Monetary Fund to renegotiate the payment of the 44.00 billion dollars that the multilateral lent in 2018 to Mauricio Macri. The Casa Rosada wants that economic plan, one of the conditions set by the IMF to advance any agreement, to have parliamentary support. The hardest bone is not in the opposition, who will not oppose the renegotiation of a debt that they themselves contracted, but with the sectors of Kirchnerism that are opposed to any option that implies a fiscal adjustment.

The Executive’s project contemplates the macroeconomic goals for Argentina in the next five years and has as its highlight a progressive reduction of the deficit until it reaches a point of equilibrium in 2025. Dialogue with the international organization has stalled on numerous occasions, but the Government It intends to reach a definitive agreement with the IMF in the first quarter of 2022. The negotiation is urgent because, according to the current maturity schedule, Argentina must disburse $ 19.1 billion next year, a figure that it cannot cope with. .

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The new Congress will accompany Fernández for the next two years. It will be an unfriendly battlefield for the Executive, as Peronism has never faced before. It will be the first time that it will not have total control of the Senate, where the provinces are represented at a rate of three for each one, while it will have to negotiate each step with the opposition in Deputies. Kirchnerism, which is now in its third version, always governed with majorities in both chambers, to the point that Parliament was considered a minor procedure that the projects that came out of the Casa Rosada had to circumvent. The new relationship of forces, arising from the electoral defeat of November 14, will put the unity of Peronism to the test to agree on a common agenda, amidst the greatest internal tensions.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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