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The new Argentine Congress rejects the budget for 2022

The Chamber of Deputies during the debate, this Friday in Buenos Aires. Matías Baglietto (Getty Images)

The Government of Alberto Fernández suffered a tough political defeat this Friday. The Chamber of Deputies rejected the 2022 Budget, considered key for the ongoing negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for debt restructuring. After more than 20 hours of debate in which the ruling party sought to agree on changes, the opposition ended up opting against it after a harsh speech by deputy Máximo Kirchner. By 132 votes against, 121 in favor and one abstention, the Lower House rejected the project presented by the Peronist Executive.

The session started on Thursday afternoon without the government having the necessary votes to approve the budget. However, he was confident of obtaining them throughout the session. The pro-government negotiators had conveyed to the different opposition blocs that the rejection of the budget complicated the agreement with the IMF. As the hours passed, the differences remained, but there seemed to be an agreement to return the budget to committees to modify some numbers and thus postpone the debate until next week.

The dialogue broke down around ten in the morning, with the intervention of Máximo Kirchner, son of Presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández. “I am powerfully struck by the behavior they are having in the face of a very serious situation when they indebted this country when it amounted to 44,000 million dollars,” Kirchner launched to the deputies of the opposition coalition Together for Change (JxC), referring to the debt with the IMF acquired under the presidency of Mauricio Macri. “I heard them. Learn to listen, learn to listen, learn to listen, learn to listen, learn to listen, learn to listen, ”Kirchner continued before a hemicycle in which his words were mixed with the boos of opposition deputies.

“The president promised to send the agreement with the IMF to Congress. I wish that in the past such debt had passed through this Congress to take care of our democracy. Perhaps it was cowardice that they did not send the project here. Let's vote yes or no, and end the show, ”Kirchner challenged the Congress that took office a week ago.

statements had an immediate effect. With visible anger, the deputy of Together for Change Cristian Ritondo announced that they were going to accompany the decision to return the project to committees to modify it, but after listening to Kirchner they had decided to vote against it. “If you want to govern, talk, don't say it in the campaign. When they win they do not dialogue and when they lose neither, “he concluded. The new Congress that emerged from the official electoral defeat at the polls on November 14 is dominated by an almost parity of forces between the ruling Frente de Todos (118 deputies) and the largest opposition bloc, JxC (116).

The estimates made for the 2022 Budget assumed that the South American country will reach an agreement with the IMF in the coming months. If not, Argentina will have to face debt maturities of 19,000 million dollars next year, a sum that it cannot face.

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Before the legislative defeat, President Alberto Fernández has the option of extending the current budget by decree. The process can no longer go through Congress.

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