Several groups allied to Argentine president Cristina Fernandez are actively promoting a constitutional review that would allow re-election for a third consecutive four year mandate. The last Argentine constitutional review was in 1994 when the four-year mandate was introduced with the possibility of an only immediate re-election, thus modifying the six year mandate but with no re-election.
“The profile of the president is unequalled. Nobody can supplant her” said on Monday Transport Secretary Alejandro Ramos, thus joining a group of provincial governors and social organizations that want to see the mandate of President Cristina Fernandez which expires in 2015, extended for another four years.
The governors of Neuquén, Jorge Sapag, Mendoza, Francisco Pérez and Jose Luis Gioja from San Juan have openly expressed their support of such an initiative which has caused certain controversy in the political agenda of an always over-politicized Argentina.
“We must allow the re-re-election of the president, which in any case will be first a decision from the candidates, in this case, Cristina, but anyhow it will finally be the electoral body that approves or disapproves”, said Governor Sapag.
Ricardo Forster, a philosopher and a reference of influence for an organization of Argentine intellectuals supporting Cristina Fernandez and her inclusive development model, said that the president “is a unique leader” and if Argentina had a parliamentary system, “CFK re-lection would be indefinite”.
From Congress the leader of the ruling coalition, lawmaker Agustin Rossi said that “from a political point of view there is no constitution reform project, not on my desk or in any other place as far as I know”, but the debate is on the political agenda because “it’s healthy to review or amend the 1994 reform”.
However the opposition which has serious problems of organization and lacks clear objectives argues that the initiative to amend the constitution is evident because the government has “no relay figure” once the president’s term is up in 2015.
“The ultra-followers of Cristina Fernandez will try to modify the constitution so she eternalizes in office. Whatever they say about updating the constitution (to include social issues) is a pack of lies. Since they have no political figure to take over, the only chance is the re-re-election of Cristina” said Ricardo Gil Lavedra head of the Lower House main opposition block.
The president that was re-elected last year with an overwhelming 54.11% of votes cast, and faces mid term elections next year, has said no word, but has not ordered her political allies to avoid the issue as she did a few weeks after her October victory when the ‘ultra-K’ launched the idea of another four years for Cristina Fernandez.
The constitutional reform of 1994 opened the way for then President Carlos Menem (1989/1999) to be re-elected in 1995 for four years, after having been in office six years according to the previous statute of the constitution.
The political agreement to open the way for Menem’s re-election was known as the “Pact of Olivos”, because of the meetings held with his predecessor Raul Alfonsin from the opposition Radicales at the official presidential residence of Olivos. The amendments of interest for Menem where supported in exchange for social reforms included in the 1994 version of the Argentine constitution.
The re-re-election initiative had been anticipated by several Argentine political analysts, Joaquin Morales Solá, Rosendo Fraga, Luis Majul, Martin Lousteau, and journalist-biographer Beatriz Sarli who have pointed out to the president’s strategy of knocking out every possible candidate that might dispute her, both inside her ruling coalition (the evident examples of Buenos Aires governor Daniel Scioli or Cordoba’s Jose Manuel de la Sota, the two strongest provinces) and in the opposition such is the case of Mauricio Macri, governor of the City of Buenos Aires.
Macri has repeatedly said he is a presidential candidate for 2015 and abstained from competing last October 2011 because of the lack of consensus in the opposition. But as head of Argentina’s capital Macri is constantly challenged with the city’s highly subsidized underground system, garbage disposal, metropolitan police, the city’s bank that holds all the funds from judicial litigation and will now be transferred to a federally controlled bank, all decisions with the clear purpose of having Macri on his knees requesting for funds from the central government to finance the city’s structure as happens with the rest of the Argentine provinces.