Three Tucumán national deputies split from UxP to back omnibus bill

Milei’s coalition is frantically negotiating support for his flagship deregulatory policy package in a divided Congress

Three Tucumán national deputies have split from the Peronist Unión por la Patria coalition to form a separate bloc that will back parts of President Javier Milei’s omnibus bill in Congress. The new alliance will be called “Independence,” they announced on Wednesday. 

Deputies Agustín Fernández, Gladys Medina, and Elía Mansilla made the decision public in a short letter sent to Lower House President Martín Menem. UxP now has 99 members, making it the first minority and the largest opposition bloc. La Libertad Avanza has 38 deputies, while PRO and the UCR have 37 and 34, respectively.

The decision is a boon to Milei’s government, whose members have been furiously negotiating support for the president’s flagship initiative. Even if all LLA, PRO, and UCR deputies vote to pass the bill, they will fall short of the necessary majority unless members of other blocs also support it.

Most lawmakers who gave a favorable verdict in the congressional commissions that green-lit the bill early Wednesday expressed their partial disagreement, signaling an uncertain fate on the Congress floor. The debate was initially expected on Thursday but has been pushed back to next week.  

Fernández, Medina, and Mansilla are aligned with Tucumán’s Peronist Governor, Osvaldo Jaldo, who was inaugurated in October. Although, in theory, Jaldo opposes Milei, he has signaled that he is open to working with the new government. 

Jaldo was one of at least two governors who publicly disagreed with a statement Peronist governors released in December listing their differences with Milei’s proposals. Stronger evidence came last Tuesday, when Agustín Fernández voted to issue a favorable verdict to the “omnibus bill” in the congressional commissions, giving it the green light to be debated in Congress. 

“Jaldo often said during the campaign that he was not going to be like other Peronist governors,” said Gabriela Baigorrí, a political reporter and columnist from Tucumán publication La Gaceta. She added that Jaldo is seemingly in line with Milei’s plan to cut state spending. He has declined to use the provincial government’s official airplane and slashed AR$220 billion (US$271 million at the official exchange rate, 178 million at the “blue” rate) from the 2024 state budget by downsizing at least 40 different dependencies.  

Another reason behind the backing is that the government eliminated a provision of the bill that would have lifted a ban on importing sugar from Brazil. This is key for Tucumán, where the sugar industry is a pillar of the economy.   

“Jaldo is trying to build his own road and clearly separate himself from [former Governor and current Senator Juan] Manzur, who was very close to the previous government,” Baigorrí told the Herald. Although Jaldo was deputy governor during Manzur’s two terms (2015-2023), they have been involved in a ferocious battle over the leadership of Tucumán Peronism and are currently not on speaking terms.  

According to Baigorrí, Jaldo met with all five UxP Tucumán national deputies and asked them to back the “omnibus bill.” While the three that have split seem to be in line with his request, the other two, Pablo Yedlin and Carlos Cisneros, have said they would not support the bill. 

Yedlin, an ally of Manzur, recently told Radio 10 that Fernández voted for the bill due to a request from Jaldo. He added that even though he didn’t agree with the decision, he understood it due to the “pressure” the government has placed on provincial governors to secure support from their lawmakers. 

Jaldo defended the decision to form a separate bloc as a way of defending Tucumán “interests” and denied that the Milei government pressured him to back the bill. “Tucumán comes first for us, as do the solutions required to make people’s lives better. As I’ve said before, party disputes will be left for another time,” he told La Gaceta.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald