Sunday, March 3, 2024

ARGENTINA | 08-02-2024 14:50

Government freezes omnibus bill – and wants to make governors pay

President Javier Milei is evaluating the possibility of calling a non-binding plebiscite to pass his reforms in the hope of a new Congress breakdown after the 2025 midterms.

After the defeat of his ‘Ley de Bases’ omnibus reform bill, President Javier Milei does not rule out the possibility of calling a popular referendum on the omnibus reform bill. 

The La Libertad Avanza leader is seeking to make those provincial governors who did not accompany him pay “the cost” of the frustrated bill and has accused them of being “traitors.” 

In his ideal world, his fantasies lead him to a new Congress as from 2025 and another chance.

Despite imprecise statements from Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni regarding the possibility of calling a plebiscite, in the corridors of the Casa Rosada the idea of a referendum has “great chances” of coming to pass, sources say.

Those who believe the mega-law to be “dead” look kindly on the chance of calling a non-binding referendum with the intention of exposing the opposition deputies who did not accompany the reform, but they know that it should pass through a Congress which, they believe, “is designed to block things.”

Case studies on this issue across Latin America include Uruguay, where Luis Lacalle Pou passed a series of reforms in 2022 via popular referendum, and Chile, where Gabriel Boric was weakened after the people rejected a new National Constitution.

“Experience indicates that when this sort of thing happens, the bills don’t come back. We believe this law to be dead with the option of a popular consultation,” alerted a Casa Rosada office source.

With almost zero self-criticism, La Libertad Avanza holds provincial governors totally responsible for its collapse. For them, the regional leaders guaranteed accompaniment of the mega-law, but their deputies voted against on the House floor.

Singled out are Maximiliano Pullaro (Santa Fe), Gustavo Sáenz (Salta), Martin Llaryora (Córdoba), Carlos Sadir (Jujuy) and Rolando Figueroa (Neuquén).

The relationship with the provincial governors is frayed to the point where the government does not see a new meeting with all of them as feasible in the short term. A meeting scheduled for Wednesday between Pullaro and Economy Minister Luis Caputo was suspended.

The decision is simple – the provinces will have to pay the political cost of the collapse of the mega-law.

The message is clear: “No government has seen the first law it presented rejected. In these conditions it is difficult to sit down and talk with people who betray you. You don’t negotiate with traitors,” said one source.

The annoyance has even questioned the continuation of Osvaldo Giordano, the head of ANSES, in his role. His wife, lawmaker Alejandra Torres (Córdoba-Hacemos Coalición Federal), voted against an article, although sources assure the social security chief will remain in his post.

New Congress dream?
President Milei knows that he is in a minority in Congress, so he will have to fine-tune his negotiating strategy if he plans to approve bills from here until 2025 at least. 

However, the next midterms thrill the libertarian administration which dreams of a new Congress breakdown with its own majority.
During his trip to Israel this week, Milei spoke about the congressional setback.

“I see with great optimism what happened, it became clear who is the caste, everything we were anticipating during the campaign became reality. 

“As I said in my speech, I have not come to guide lambs but to awaken lions and I believe that yesterday new lions were awakened, becoming aware of the filthy and disgusting garbage, which is the caste and on whom without doubt they will turn their backs in 2025.

“We will have a cleaner and more honourable Congress where it will be possible to pass reforms,” he concluded.


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