It's budget time in the Argentine Congress and with Chacho Alvarez out of government the event has become a formidable challenge and test for the ruling coalition, and for the former vice president himself.
The Alianza holds 115 seats out of 257 in the Argentine House of Deputies, split 81 and 43 between Radicales and junior partner Frepaso, but not all members are convinced of the merits of the further cuts in outlays promised by Argentine officials to international markets in an effort to balance the budget.
It's no secret in Buenos Aires that Minister of Economy, Jose Luis Machinea has had several meetings with the former vice president requesting assistance in getting the budget through Congress, and it's also evident that Mr. Alvarez does not want to be seen or remembered as the man who torpedoed the Alianza and left president De la Rúa at the mercy of Peronist votes, particularly former president Carlos Menem. Peronists total 99 seats and provincial parties 43.
Building consensus won't be easy since Frepaso and some left leaning Peronists are against another 700 million US dollars budget cut and leaving unchanged the 12% higher salaries reduction for civil servants adopted in a previous austerity decision.
However, if a reasonable budget acceptable in international markets, from where Argentine needs fresh money, is not approved, the financial situation could get out of control and Mr. Alvarez's exit from government as the anti corruption champion with promising political prospects, could turn sour.
The victim could even become a victimizer.
The 2001 budget includes expenditures 47 billion US dollars in expenditure and 43 billion in revenue with an expected 4 billion US dollars deficit.