National Deputy Fernando Carbajal filed a petition today to the Supreme Court to ban the potential reelection of incumbent Governor Gildo Insfrán. The move comes in the aftermath of the Court’s recent decision to suspend elections for governor in Tucumán and San Juan last week.
Insfrán has not yet announced whether or not he will run in this year’s gubernatorial elections for what would be his eighth term — he is currently the longest-serving governor in Argentina. He also served twice as vice governor, meaning that he has been in the Formosa government since 1987.
Carbajal, a former federal judge and current opposition deputy who is also running for governor under the Juntos Por Formosa Libre alliance, filed a request to the Supreme Court asking them to issue a ruling on an alleged “legal vacuum in Article 132” of the Formosa constitution. The article, which was modified under Insfrán in 2003, establishes that gubernatorial terms last for four years and simply states that they “can be reelected.”
Carbajal’s petition, formally known as a request for a “declaration of certainty,” states that Article 132 enables Insfrán’s indefinite reelections, and “constitutes a clear counterpart to the spirit of the National Constitution that establishes the principles of republican government and term limits for those in power.” When the Supreme Court suspended the Tucumán and San Juan elections, it cited articles one and five of the Constitution — as well as each province’s magna carta — in establishing that the governors’ candidacies didn’t abide by constitutional term limits.
On Sunday 21, the Formosa Justicialista Party is scheduled to announce the candidates that will run in the June 25 elections for governor and deputies.
“If Gildo Insfrán confirms his intention to be reelected for the tenth time, then we will also ask for an injunction, which could obtain an immediate resolution,” said Carbajal in an interview with the Buenos Aires Herald.
When asked about the timeliness of his petition in connection with the Tucumán and San Juan rulings, Carbajal said “We were going to dispute this anyway.”
“We raised this issue already in 1999, when we represented the Unión Cívica Radical with this request, but at that time we lost because the court back then didn’t want to observe this,” he told the Herald. “Now, this Supreme Court’s criteria have enabled the possibility of doing it again with greater hopes for a favorable ruling.”
Later today, the Frente Amplio Formoseño Confederation also requested the Supreme Court to ban Insfrán, this time through a writ of protection — a common recourse in Latin American law. It claims that Insfrán’s candidacy causes “serious institutional damage,” and referred to the precedent set in San Juan and Tucumán.
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“This is part of a basically provincial strategy to tackle the fact that [the opposition] can’t play in equal terms against the provincial ruling parties that are so powerful,” said Facundo Cruz, a political analyst with Cenital. He told the Herald that the Formosa opposition is leveraging the “wave” generated by the Court’s rulings on Tucumán and San Juan..
“In a scenario where it’s hard for these oppositions to win against the ruling parties, as they have trouble reaching the electorate, some of the resources a political side has is targeting the rules that determine the distribution of political power in each province. But apart from this intention to obtain an electoral advantage, there is also another issue, which is the little clarity with which some of these provincial constitutions establish reelection term limits.”
With eight provincial elections so far this year, the common feature has been the triumph of ruling parties and the disconnect from the issues at play on the national electoral stage. According to Cruz, it’s hard to translate these results into a national forecast, as only 13% of the country’s registered voters have cast their ballots, and provincial alliances are far more heterogeneous than their national counterparts.
“It’s hard to extrapolate this to what will happen in August [in the national primaries],” he said. “Because by then we will hear debates about inflation, we will be discussing a macroeconomic model, and those main political issues are the ones for which there is no consensus, and the government’s results are not very positive.”
Formosa government officials did not respond to requests for comment.
— reporting by Lucía Cholakian and Agustín Mango, with information from Télam