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Argentinian government rebellion erupts as vice president denounces budget failures

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BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s center-left President Alberto Fernandez was fighting a rebellion spreading in the cabinet on Thursday, which was compounded by criticism from its powerful vice-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The government was rocked following a deadly defeat in the primary elections by a series of resignations submitted by left-wing ministers allied to the more militant “Kirchnerist” wing of the ruling party.

Fernandez has yet to officially accept or reject ministerial resignations amid speculation over his coalition’s potential breakdown and told local newspaper Pagina 12 his hand would not be forced.

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The government was severely beaten on Sunday in an open primary election, seen as a reliable indicator ahead of a midterm Congress vote in November in which the ruling Peronist party could lose its grip on Congress.

Fernandez now faces a difficult choice whether to double down on populist measures or take a more moderate approach to attracting middle-class voters who have rallied to the conservative opposition.

“The government coalition must listen to the polls’ message and act responsibly,” Fernandez wrote on Twitter, saying he would ensure party unity and the government would continue to act in a way it “saw fit. appropriate “.

In a scathing letter released Thursday evening, Fernandez de Kirchner, who served as president from 2007 to 2015, accused the president of pursuing “flawed” tax policies that have exacerbated Argentina’s economic crisis already worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Fernandez de Kirchner wrote that she had met with President Fernandez to suggest a candidate for chief of staff as part of a government ‘stimulus’, although she denied reports that she asked for the resignation by Minister of the Economy Martin Guzman.

She also criticized the government’s inaction since the defeat.

“In the aftermath of such a political catastrophe, if you listened to certain officials, you would think that nothing had happened, they were feigning normalcy and, above all, were in their seats.”

COUNTRY RISK

President Fernandez was due to travel to Mexico for a regional left-wing summit this week, but has suspended his trip to put the finishing touches on new economic measures to be announced in the coming days, a government spokesperson said.

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Political uncertainty in Argentina scared investors and weighed on local markets and the peso.

The official peso fell slightly, held in check by tight currency controls, but the currency fell further in popular alternative markets. The S&P Merval stock index fell before recovering later in the day.

In downtown Buenos Aires, people had previously participated in largely peaceful street protests both for and against the government.

Ramiro Marra, director of Bull Market Group in Buenos Aires, said internal political struggles had increased “political, economic and social uncertainty”.

“It increases country risk, makes dollars more expensive and scares off investments,” he said.

(Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Additional reporting by Hernán Nessi; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Will Dunham and Michael Perry)

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