Tucumán province’s Governor Juan Manzur announced on Thursday night that he was pulling out of the local elections. The move came after Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling that suspended this Sunday’s election on the grounds that constitutional term limits meant Manzur was ineligible to run again.
“In view of the events that have taken place and the situations that have occurred in relation to a precautionary measure by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, which we have respected as you all know, with provincial Vice Governor Osvaldo Jaldo, we have decided to step down my candidacy,” Manzur said at a press conference.
“We are doing this for the sole purpose of clearing up doubts, we’re doing it for the sole purpose of generating certainty, generating predictability, as we have always done.”
He told journalists present that he had already signed the paperwork to make the decision official, adding that he hoped the Supreme Court would remove the measure suspending the election: “If the impediment was my candidacy, then by stepping down there is no impediment for the precautionary measure to remain in force.”
On Tuesday afternoon, less than five days before the people of Tucumán were due to head to the polls, the Supreme Court announced it was suspending provincial elections in Tucumán and San Juan provinces because term limits in the provincial and national constitutions meant Manzur and San Juan Governor Sergio Uñac were not eligible to run again.
Manzur was Vice Governor for two terms, between 2007 and 2015. He was elected Governor in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. He took leave from the role to serve as President Alberto Fernández’s chief of staff between September 2021 and last February, when he returned to Tucumán to run for the role of Vice Governor. Tucumán’s provincial Supreme Court ruled in November that he could run for the position. Uñac was attempting to run for a third term as San Juan Governor.
Manzur said that it would no longer be possible to hold the elections this Sunday, as initially planned, because there would no longer be time to make necessary adaptations such as changing the ballots. He announced that Miguel Acevedo, who is currently serving as the province’s Interior Minister, would replace him as candidate for Vice Governor.
Tucumán’s electoral authorities have yet to announce a new date for the elections.
“He is a good man, a professional, a man with a long trajectory,” Manzur said. “He has worked with Jaldo, with me, he has always done an exceptional job.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling suspending the elections sparked a political firestorm. After the ruling was announced, opposition presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich, of the Juntos por el Cambio coalition, immediately tweeted: “We stopped Manzur and Uñac’s reelection. They believe they are feudal lords and owners of their provinces.”
Fernández called the decision a “clear intrusion in the democratic process” and accused the court of “aligning itself with the opposition” in social media statements. He gave a televised address on Wednesday to announce that the records from the decision to suspend the elections would be added to the ongoing bid to impeach the Supreme Court.
On Friday morning, Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner tweeted that the electoral suspension was a smokescreen to cover up accusations of illicit enrichment against Supreme Court President and Justice Horacio Rosatti, which were being discussed in the impeachment commission this week.
Other provincial governors could face similar legal battles: opposition deputy Fernando Carbajal has indicated that he could challenge the candidacy of Formosa governor Gildo Insfrán, who has governed the province for 28 years. While Formosa province’s constitution does not establish term limits, Carbajal has suggested in interviews that he could present a challenge based on the national constitution.