Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ARGENTINA | 14-12-2023 10:13

La Libertad Avanza clinches Senate provisional president: Bartolomé Abdala

In the first session presided by Victoria Villarruel, fierce procedural clashes between Unión por la Patria and the other caucuses.

In the first session presided by Vice-President Victoria Villarruel, the Senate elected the libertarian Bartolomé Abdala as its provisional president and formed its permanent committees in the midst of a tense atmosphere with the Unión por la Patria caucus.

La Libertad Avanza thus gained its first triumph in the Upper House with the support of most opposition caucuses. Abdala received 39 affirmative votes while the remaining 29 senators present abstained.

Radical Carolina Losada swore in as the first vice-president and Córdoba’s Alejandra Vigo the second while the Vice-presidency of the chamber is reserved for the first minority, Unión por la Patria.

María Laura Izzo will be the administrative secretary, Agustín Giustinian the parliamentary secretary, Dolores Martínez the parliamentary pro-secretary and Manuel Chavarría the co-ordination pro-secretary.   

Villarruel opened the session after 3pm. The first to speak was José Mayans (Unión por la Patria-Formosa), who rejected President Javier Milei’s decision not to address the Legislative Assembly and dismissed the session convoked by Villarruel as “unconstitutional and illegitimate" while adding: “In these new times we want to collaborate as far as we can.”

Senator Juliana Di Tullio (Unión por la Patria-Buenos Aires Province), close to the former vice-president Cristina Kirchner, likewise emphatically dismissed the proceedings as unconstitutional since the Senate is in recess, speaking of “bullying by numbers." 

Juan Carlos Pagotto (La Libertad Avanza-La Rioja) retorted: “While we do live in new times, there is no bullying by numbers,” to which Losada added: “The kings of ‘if I have the numbers on my side, I steamroller everything and do not listen to anybody’ now find themselves in the minority. Chicos, sorry!"

Unión por la Patria maintained that the session was invalid because Milei has yet to convoke extraordinary sessions. In this context, their senators claimed that the designation of authorities should be postponed until February 24. 

The frustrated appointment of Paoltroni

Senator Francisco Paoltroni (La Libertad Avanza-Formosa) vented his discontent for not having obtained the consensus of the caucuses to be made Provisional President.

“The caste has given me its welcome. As many know, I was named by the President (Javier Milei) as provisional president of the Senate,” said Paoltroni at the beginning of his speech.

Sworn in only the previous week, he made it clear that it was a “sad start,” aiming his fire at Formosa Governor Gildo Insfrán. 

“I come from a province where a plan for poverty has been installed for the past 40 years and where the Constitution has been changed to permit indefinite re-election,” he indicated.

Along those lines Paoltroni raised a question-mark over his continuation in the libertarian caucus: "This seat belongs to the province of Formosa and I owe everything to its people, suffering authoritarianism together with all the people of Formosa. From now on, I will vote true to my principles which I have received from the cradle like all decent Argentines but as the President says, ‘we are not a herd’.” 

Nevertheless, Senate libertarian sources speaking to Noticias Argentinas news agency ruled out this possibility. Paoltroni had been proposed by Milei himself. Another source told NA that the decision to discard Paoltroni in favour of Bartolomé Abdala had been taken “from on top,” pointing to Villarruel herself.

The vice-president was kept out of the national Cabinet, which was filled by Milei. Before the runoff victory, the Security and Defence portfolios had been inside her orbit. 

The agreement with PRO hawks, added to the centralisation of power in Milei as designed by Interior Minister Guillermo Francos and Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse, confined Villarruel and her team to the Senate.



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