Sunday, October 17, 2021

Argentine Vice President Leads Cabinet Revolt Against President | Coronavirus pandemic news

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The crisis came after a series of resignations by left-wing ministers allied with Vice President Fernández de Kirchner due to the bad economy.

Argentina’s center-left president Alberto Fernández is fighting a spreading cabinet rebellion, exacerbated by criticism from his powerful vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The crisis comes as a result of a resounding defeat in the primary elections due to a series of resignations presented by left-wing ministers allied with the toughest “Kirchnerist” wing of the ruling party.

Fernández has yet to officially accept or reject the resignations of the ministers amid speculation about the possible breakdown of his coalition and told the local newspaper Pagina 12 that his hand would not be forced.

The government was hit hard on Sunday in an open primary election, seen as a reliable indicator ahead of a midterm parliamentary vote in November in which the ruling Peronist party could lose its grip on Congress.

Fernández now faces a strong option to redouble populist measures or take a more moderate approach to attract middle-class voters who supported the conservative opposition.

“The ruling coalition must listen to the message from the polls and act responsibly,” Fernández wrote on Twitter, saying that he would guarantee the party’s unity and that the government would continue to act in the way that he “deems appropriate.”

In a scathing letter published Thursday night, Kirchner, who served as president from 2007 to 2015, accused the president of pursuing “wrong” fiscal policies that exacerbated Argentina’s economic crisis already aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kirchner wrote that he had met with President Fernández to suggest a candidate to assume the post of chief of staff as part of a “relaunch” of the government, though he denied reports that he had requested the resignation of Economy Minister Martín Guzmán.

He also criticized the government’s inaction since the defeat.

“The day after such a political catastrophe, if you listen to some officials, you would think that nothing had happened, that they pretended normalcy and, above all, got tangled up in their chairs.”

President Fernández was scheduled to travel to Mexico for a regional left-wing summit this week, but has called off his trip to put the finishing touches on new economic measures to be announced in the coming days, a government spokesman said.

Fernández took power from incumbent Mauricio Macri in 2019.

Public discontent with his government has been growing in a country in recession since 2018 and a 9.9 percent drop in gross domestic product (GDP) last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Argentina has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, with 29 percent from January to July this year, and a poverty rate of 42 percent.

In downtown Buenos Aires on Thursday there were mostly peaceful street protests for and against the government.

Ramiro Marra, director of Bull Market Group in Buenos Aires, told the Reuters news agency that the political struggles increased “political, economic and social uncertainty.”

“It increases the country risk, makes dollars more expensive and drives away investment,” he said.

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