President Alberto Fernández took to Argentina’s public television channel on Wednesday noon for a harsh critique of the Supreme Court’s announcement yesterday that it would suspend gubernatorial elections in Tucumán and San Juan because the sitting governors were ineligible to run again.
“We are going to send the records from these decisions to be added to the grounds for impeachment,” Fernández said, referring to the government’s bid to impeach the four members of the Supreme Court.
In January, Fernández sent to congress a bid to impeach all four of Argentina’s Supreme Court Justices, alleging that they had overstepped their competence in a ruling restoring tax funding to Buenos Aires City.
“The judicial power must understand that it cannot manipulate electoral timelines under the pretext of constitutional norms,” Fernández said.
He accused the Justices of showing “antidemocratic character” and holding the provinces “hostage”.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court announced that it was suspending provincial elections in Tucumán and San Juan, both scheduled for this Sunday May 14, because national and provincial constitutional term limits meant candidates for governor in each province were ineligible to run again.
The ruling referred to governors Juan Manzur (Tucumán) and Sergio Uñac (San Juan), who are currently in office and planning to run again. Manzur and Uñac are both members of the Frente de Todos ruling coalition.
Fernández accused the Justices of being in hock to the opposition, stating that the decision came one day after former President Mauricio Macri accused provinces that elected FdT governors – and, in the case of Jujuy, a member of Macri’s own coalition – of being “fiefdoms”.
The President continued by enumerating a list of recent disputes between the executive and judicial powers, including judges’ participation in a trip to the Lago Escondido ranch paid for by opposition allies, the Supreme Court’s ruling restoring a greater share of federal tax revenue to Buenos Aires City, and most recently, Supreme Court Justice Horacio Rosatti’s comments to the annual summit of the United States Chamber of Commerce in Argentina (Amcham Argentina) criticizing the government for “excessive monetary emission”.
“President, a total and lasting change involves you stopping attacking the separation of powers,” tweeted Buenos Aires City mayor and opposition presidential candidate, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta after the speech. “The only hostages here are Argentines, hostages to your incapacity to govern.”
The Supreme Court impeachment bid is currently being handled by a congressional commission. It would have to pass through congress for the impeachment to happen, where it is unlikely to reach the numbers it would need for approval.