A decision by the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina suspended, yesterday (9), the election of governors that would take place next Sunday (14), in two northern provinces: Tucumán and San Juan. These are provinces – the equivalent of states in Brazil – where the Peronist parties were favorites in the polls.
In addition to these, three other provinces in the country have elections scheduled for next Sunday: Salta, La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego.
President Alberto Fernández spoke about the decision of the court on national television this Wednesday afternoon (10). He classified the Court’s sentence as a gesture that responds to former president Mauricio Macri.
“The suspension of elections in the provinces of San Juan and Tucumán leaves democracy hostage to a group of judges,” said the president. “They became the operative arm of the opposition and the concentrated groups of economic and media power”, he pointed out.
Four of the five judges of the Court signed the decision, Horacio Rosatti, Carlos Rosenkrantz and Juan Carlos Maqueda, executed through a precautionary measure. The initiative was favorable to the opposition to the Peronist government, which questioned the candidacy for governor of Sergio Uñac, in San Juan, and for vice-governor of Juan Manzur, in Tucumán, who appear on the lists of candidates of their coalitions, according to the resolution of the judges, for a “fourth term”.
The candidacies were legitimized by the country’s Electoral Court, which was questioned by Uñac. “It is disrespectful of the province to have let more than 30 days pass to reach a resolution, knowing that the process was ongoing and that it implied a very large economic and institutional effort for San Juan”, he alleged, upon learning of the Court’s decision .
What was the precautionary measure based on
Uñac was once vice-governor and twice governor of the province of San Juan, and was seeking re-election, as provided for in the provincial constitution. But the opposition pointed against the candidate for trying to seek, in fact, a fourth term because he had already been vice-governor before.
In the case of Manzur, in Tucumán, he was twice vice-governor and twice governor, having interrupted his last term to assume the leadership of the presidency in the nation. As he is now running for vice, the opposition’s criticism points to a possible trap, in which the gubernatorial candidate resigns so that Manzur can take over again.
These are not cases of violation of terms of the Constitution of the respective provinces. However, the election of both territories has been suspended until the Court decides whether or not those named can, in fact, be candidates.
Despite being an institutional and judicial issue, the opposition celebrated it as an achievement of its own. President of the Republican Party and pre-candidate for the presidency, Patricia Bullrich explained: “We have stopped the re-elections of Manzur and Uñac”, she wrote on her social network, including herself as part of the decision. “They wanted to violate their own constitutions and the Supreme Court put them in their place. With us here, that won’t happen.”
We stopped the re-elections of Manzur and Uñac. They believe they are feudal lords and owners of their provinces. They wanted to violate their own constitutions and the Supreme Court put them in a box.
With us, this will not happen.
— Patricia Bullrich (@PatoBullrich) May 9, 2023
Several Peronist leaders have harshly criticized the Court since the resolution released yesterday. The governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, said the decision “is a disgrace and is trampling Argentina’s democracy.” Like the president, he denounced that the judges are “part of the opposition and don’t even hide it anymore”.
Cabinet chief Agustín Rossi, also a possible pre-candidate for the presidency by the Albertist wing of the government, stressed that the decision would be a clear interference in the electoral process by the Justice, instrumentalized by sectors linked to the coalition Together for the Change, by Mauricio Macri . “The Court’s sentence violates the National Constitution,” he said, in a television interview this Wednesday. “These are two provinces where it was very likely that justicialism [do Partido Justicialista] triumph in the respective elections. Things haven’t been going very well in the provincial elections for the opposing sectors,” said Rossi.
In his announcement, President Alberto Fernández highlighted that he will raise the case to a political trial in Congress to open “new avenues of investigation”. “We are going to send the antecedents of these decisions taken yesterday to be added to the cases of political judgment, to continue demonstrating how this Court violates the division of powers and federalism”, concluded the president.
Editing: Thalita Pires