Photo Maxi Failla

The Law of Bases and Starting Points for the Freedom of Argentines, better known as Omnibus Law, was President Javier Milei’s bet to implement, in one fell swoop, a package of authoritarian and ultra-liberal measures. On Friday (2), the government had partial success in the Chamber of Deputies, approving only a squalid version of the legislation.

The “Pyrrhic victory” was not enough, however, to put the ultra-rightist Milei on alert. Even knowing that each article in the Omnibus Law would have to be voted on this week by the deputies, the president preferred to dedicate the weekend to his girlfriend in Mar del Plata. Worse: he continued a useless trip to Israel, where he posed in tears in front of the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, on Tuesday (6).

As if there wasn’t already a political bombshell, he delved into a religious bombshell by announcing that he would transfer the headquarters of the Argentine embassy to West Jerusalem. By consensus, the international community has maintained its diplomatic representations in Tel Aviv since the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took the eastern part of Jerusalem from the Palestinians.

While Argentine deputies began to debate and defeat the articles of Omnibus Law, Milei maintained her Israeli tourist schedule and planned to go to the Vatican – until an audience with Pope Francis was confirmed. In what could be the most decisive week of his government, the president saw no problems in being absent from Argentina and outsourcing the negotiations.

When he realized that, from defeat to defeat, only a few shreds of the Omnibus Law, Milei concluded that she needed to intervene. On social media, she activated her traditional verbiage against opposition deputies and governors, whom she called a “political caste”, “criminals”, “traitors” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. In parallel, she launched the idea of ​​an anti-abortion law – the customs agenda served as her step.

In the Chamber, a deputy from the dwindling government base, Oscar Zago, managed to convince the Board of Directors to interrupt the vote and transfer the project back to the committees (General Legislation, Budget and Constitutional Affairs). The internal regulations allow a measure to return to square one. With the maneuver, the already modest victory was annulled, but the government stopped the bleeding.

Ministers considered a plebiscite on the Omnibus Law to put pressure on parliamentarians, assuming that there will be victory in a popular consultation – which is possible, but unlikely at this point. Even supporters criticized Milei for having concentrated almost all the evil in his ideas in a single bill. This is where the name of the proposal comes from, “To everyone”, a Latin expression that means “for everyone” or “for everything”.

In Jerusalem, the president refuted the complaint, as if the balance of forces were in his favor: “What we presented in these 50 days is only 25% of what we gathered. We still have 3,000 structural reforms – and the transition unit for economic deregulation is moving forward with the decrees.”

However, the feeling in Argentina is different: bets are growing that the Milei government has already sunk so much, so much, that not even the best rescue teams in Matinha will be able to rescue it. Elected at the end of November with a significant 55.65% of valid votes and sworn in on December 10, the president could become a lame duck (“lame duck”) with two months at Casa Rosada. The expression is most used in the United States to describe presidents who are at the end of their second term, with a lot of accumulated wear and tear and without the political strength to lead major projects.

James Carville, former US president Bill Clinton’s marketer, taught that, in election campaigns, what works “is the economy, stupid!”. Once elected, representatives need to dominate politics – and, in some cases, the realpolitik. With a base restricted to 15% of the Argentine Congress, Milei underestimated basic codes of power and reaped profuse failures. A realpolitik devoured his government.

What will happen to management from now on? “All constitutional instruments are being evaluated and we will decide on the most correct path or the one that is quickest”, declared presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni. Popular consultation is a very risky alternative for the government. Depending on the topic, a plebiscite must be called 60 to 120 days in advance. What if Milei’s popularity wanes even further over the course of these months?

Furthermore, the victory of “yes” in the plebiscite needs the support of Congress. Whatever the Casa Rosada’s choice, the Argentine president can only face politics, give in and negotiate – seek minimum consensus that will give survival to his deplorable agenda. Apparently, the Omnibus Law is sworn to death.


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