Opposition to boycott government over Supreme Court impeachment bid

JxC leaders hope the move will bring the impeachment proceedings to a swift end - but it could stymie the officialist agenda.

by Buenos Aires Herald
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Leaders of opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio have announced plans to boycott the government’s legislative agenda for the duration of its impeachment bid against the supreme court.

“For as long as this abuse against the Supreme Court of Justice continues, we will not give quorum or viability to any project put forward by the national government or [ruling coalition] Frente de Todos,” the coalition’s representatives wrote in a statement.

The declaration came after a Zoom meeting of the coalition’s leadership that was attended by the heads of the parties in the coalition, as well as key congressional representatives and former president Mauricio Macri.

On Wednesday, President Alberto Fernández presented congress with a request to impeach all four Justices of the Supreme Court, alleging that they acted outside their competence when they ordered the national government to pay a greater share of tax revenues to Buenos Aires City government.

Debating the impeachment proceeding and a series of other measures will require congress to hold extraordinary sessions during its summer recess. President Fernández has not yet formally announced the sessions.

The impeachment proceeding is likely to be approved by the commission reviewing it, where 16 of the 31 members are members of the ruling coalition. However, the decision then passes to deputies, where the session requires a quorum of at least 129 of Congress’s 257 deputies. 

At present, FdT only has 118 deputies, so would have to negotiate with its allies. In theory, these negotiations could bring the numbers up to 132, but many allied blocks have not yet said what they plan to do. With 116 deputies, JxC’s decision to boycott the procedure could bring the proceeding to a standstill. Even if the session is quorate, FdT is highly unlikely to secure the two-thirds majority it would need for the impeachment to proceed to the senate.

Presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti had not responded to the statements at the time of writing.

The opposition also lashed out at the government over alleged illegal spying. “The realm of the legal is imperative, as is the punishment of any behaviors that violate it,” the statement said.

Recent leaks of chats from Buenos Aires city security minister Marcelo D’Alessandro, apparently show the opposition working in cahoots with judges and the media, appear to have been obtained through an illegal hack. 

Although the perpetrator is unknown and president Alberto Fernández has denied state involvement, it has resulted in a series of legal proceedings against the opposition, and D’Alessandro – who claims the chats are fake – has taken a leave of absence.

Illegal spying was used during the presidency of Mauricio Macri, against figures ranging from political opponents to the families of the disappeared submarine, the ARA San Juan. 

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