Argentine president takes on Supreme Court

Buenos Aires, May 10 (EFE).- Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said Wednesday that his allies in Congress will cite this week’s decision by the Supreme Court to postpone provincial elections in a bill proposing to impeach all four current members of the tribunal.

Democracy is being held “hostage by a group of judges,” he said in a televised address.

The Fernandez administration was already pushing for the ouster of the four judges as part of a judicial overhaul to eliminate what the ruling Peronist party sees as a weaponizing of the courts against Vice President Cristina Fernandez (no relation to the president), whose conviction last year on corruption charges threatens to end her political career.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court suspended the May 14 elections in the northern provinces of Tucuman and San Juan pending a final ruling on motions filed by opposition parties in the respective jurisdictions.

Though the particulars differ, the argument in both cases is that the incumbent Peronist governors seeking re-election – Juan Manzur (Tucuman) and Sergio Uñac (San Jose) – have circumvented “republicanism” by running alternately for governor and lieutenant governor across multiple terms.

By intervening in the provincial elections, the Supreme Court is “violating the separation of powers and federalism,” President Fernandez said Wednesday.

“The Supreme Court has demonstrated once again that it is capable of adjusting its decisions to the political needs of the opposition and has made evident its antidemocratic character and its profound inattention to the federal system,” he said.

He went on to accuse the court of subservience to former President Mauricio Macri, who remains an important figure in the right-wing opposition.

“The judges designated by decree by Macri continue following his orders,” Alberto Fernandez said, adding that the court “cannot manipulate the electoral calendar … preserving the interests of their political friends or business friends.”

President Fernandez announced last month that he will not seek a second term in the Oct. 22 election.

Cristina Fernandez, the favorite of the Peronist rank and file, said following her corruption conviction that she will not be a candidate for any office this year.

Labeling the prosecution “lawfare,” she is appealing the verdict in a case involving public works contracts awarded during her 2007-2015 tenure as president and during the 2003-2007 administration of her late husband, Nestor Kirchner.

Uñac and Manzur said they will respect the Supreme Court decision, but without abandoning their candidacies.

EFE vd/dr

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