Governors weigh in on Milei’s proposed political pact

The president invited political leaders to sign a ‘May pact’ in an apparent attempt to calm tensions over funding cuts

Twelve governors backed President Javier Milei’s proposal to sign a political pact amid unprecedented political tensions over the national government cutting funds for the provinces. However, others posed conditions to participate in it or directly rejected it, saying “You can’t build consensus by trying to put the other on their knees.”

During his speech to kick off the legislative year in Congress, Milei invited governors and political leaders to sign a “May Pact” (Pacto de Mayo in Spanish) on May 25, a national holiday that commemorates Argentina kicking out the Spanish viceroy in the 1810 May Revolution. This was an unexpected appeal to cordiality after weeks of quarreling between governors and the national administration over budget cuts, including the share of federal taxes and education funding.

The pact would be centered around 10 key principles, including “non-negotiable” efforts towards fiscal balance, reduction of public spending, and reforms in tax, pensions, and labor issues.

The principles also include the “inviolability of private property” after Chubut Governor Ignacio Torres threatened to stop sending oil and gas to the rest of the country if the national government didn’t send his province its share of federal taxes. Milei ultimately sent Torres the money his administration owed Chubut on Wednesday following a court order issued by the provincial judiciary.

In a post on X after Milei’s speech, Torres wrote he “celebrates and agrees” with Milei’s pact proposal. “We agree on the goals of the issues he pointed out, with dialogue and respect for federalism,” he said, adding he expects him to join a meeting with the rest of the Patagonia provinces’ governors on March 7 to discuss a productive agenda.

Torres’ public request for Milei to pay the corresponding funds last week sparked a wave of statements supporting Chubut by almost all of Argentina’s governors — except for Tucumán’s Osvaldo Jaldo — in a show of unprecedented unity. Milei, on his part, liked dozens of offensive X posts mocking Torres.

You may also be interested in: Outrage as Milei likes edited porn meme mocking Chubut governor

For and against

Following the overwhelming support for Torres, provincial leaders are split regarding the proposed “May Pact.” Milei has received enthusiastic support from governors Raúl Jalil (Catamarca), Gustavo Saénz (Salta), Carlos Alberto Sadir (Jujuy), Martín Llaryora (Córdoba), Osvaldo Jaldo (Tucumán), Leandro Zdero (Chaco), Maximiliano Pullaro (Santa Fe), Rogelio Frigerio (Entre Ríos), Marcelo Orrego (San Juan) and Alfredo Cornejo (Mendoza), as well as Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri, in the past two days.

Rolando Figueroa (Neuquén) also seemingly backed the proposal in an X post. “I trust us to be capable of enabling dialogue and agreements between the provinces and the national government,” he wrote on Saturday.

Claudio Poggi (San Luis) and Hugo Passalacqua (Misiones) were more cautious in accepting the invitation. Poggi said he agreed with Milei’s goal to reach fiscal balance and his statements on “using politics as a tool towards the common good and not for perpetuating oneself in power.” Passalacqua commented he was in favor of any agreements that bring peace and wellness to the people “through consensus, dialogue, and federalism.”

La Pampa governor Sergio Ziliotto was the harshest in responding to Milei’s invitation. Ziliotto took the opportunity to take a swipe at the president, seemingly rejecting the proposal by saying “Agreements are a result of consensus, not imposition.”

“You can’t build consensus by intending to put the other on their knees, attacking them and taking away what belongs to them,” Ziliotto wrote Saturday on X. “For this governor, an agreement will never be possible if the National Constitution is not respected,” as well as “the power division and federalism.”

Other governors have yet to make public statements about the invitation. The governor of Buenos Aires province Axel Kicillof is expected to address it during his speech opening the ordinary sessions at the provincial Legislature on Monday.

Milei said on Friday that signing the May Pact will require a previous fiscal agreement and the approval of his sweeping state reform proposal known as the “omnibus bill.” The omnibus bill was approved in general by the Chamber of Deputies in early February but was ultimately sent back to commissions by the ruling coalition after failing to earn support on most of the individual articles that were key for the government.

— with information from Télam.

You may also be interested in: Congress opening speech: Milei promises to criminalize monetary emission and strip collective bargaining power


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald