In a surprising turn, the Supreme Court has published two rulings suspending the elections that were set to happen in San Juan and Tucumán provinces this Sunday, citing their governors’ ineligibility to run as candidates.
The governors of both provinces, Sergio Uñac (San Juan) and Juan Luis Manzur (Tucumán) are currently in office and planned on running on May 14 for the ruling coalition Frente de Todos (FdT). Uñac was attempting to run for a third term as governor and Manzur for vice governor, following two stints in that role prior to becoming governor in 2015.
The Supreme Court declared today that their bids are unconstitutional according to both their respective provincial constitutions — article 175 for San Juan and article 90 for Tucumán— and the National Constitution.
“The purpose of the article is to enforce the republican principle of alternation of power so that one can be reelected only one time, that is to say, be governor for two terms or vice-governor for two terms, after which one cannot be reelected to those offices,” read the ruling for Tucumán.
“The validity of the republican system consecrated by Articles 1 and 5 of the National Constitution presupposes alternation and the renewal of authorities.”
Both rulings establish the suspension of the provincial elections as a precautionary measure “until this Court issues its final ruling.”
When asked about the timing and the reason behind suspending elections instead of just the ineligible candidates, the Supreme Court press offered no comment beyond what was in the ruling.
The Frente San Juan por Todos (San Juan Front for Everyone), which was recently launched by Uñac, told the Herald that an “intervention by the Provincial Electoral Court and state prosecutor” was called for as the “relevant authorities on the matter.”
“For that reason, the Frente will avoid making statements about the issue.”
Manzur did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The rulings are the result of legal action by members of the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) — Sergio Guillermo Vallejos Mini in San Juan and Germán Enrique Alfaro in Tucumán — calling for their governors’ candidacies to be declared unconstitutional.
Within an hour of the rulings going public, former Republican Proposal (PRO) party head and JxC presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich tweeted “We stopped Manzur and Uñac’s reelection. They believe they are feudal lords and owners of their provinces.”
“They wanted to violate their own constitutions and the Supreme Court put them in their place.”
She was echoing former President Mauricio Macri, who said yesterday before a PRO meeting that the elections in Jujuy, La Rioja, and Misiones provinces last Sunday were “not representative because there are provinces being run by unrepresentative feudal systems, but they will soon have their era of freedom.”
President Alberto Fernández described the rulings as “a clear intrusion in the democratic process and the autonomy of the provinces.”
“The Supreme Court aligned itself today with the opposition to anticipate what were seen as possible Peronism victories,” he said in a statement that he later replicated on Twitter.
He also referred to Macri’s comments, saying that they were “derogatory.”
“These unhappy concepts from an ex-president, which deny the federalism that governs us, clearly constituted a preview of the ruling we just found out about.”
The four Supreme Court justices are currently facing an inquiry for alleged “poor performance” and “abuse of authority” by the Impeachment Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. The committee held a meeting today which was ongoing when the rulings were published.
The Supreme Court’s decision means that three provinces will be heading to the polls this Sunday instead of five in what was billed to be an intense electoral month.