| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Argentina president rejects Supreme Court ruling, sparking backlash

Alberto Fernandez, the socialist president of Argentina, triggered a legal crisis when he declared he would challenge the country’s highest court’s decision to award a higher share of state funding to the city of Buenos Aires.

The South American nation has a system to control how public monies are allocated among the many parts of the nation, including the capital city area, which is overseen by a conservative mayor and had been clamoring for a larger share.

In a ruling on Wednesday the Supreme Court said the level should be raised from 1.4% of the total pool of funds to 2.95% after it was cut by government decree during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The city is the wealthiest and most populous area of the country.

Fernandez, in a statement late on Thursday, said the ruling was unjustified and pledged to ignore it.

“It is an unprecedented, incongruous, and impossible-to-enforce ruling,” he said, calling the decision politically motivated ahead of general elections next year and adding that it would hurt the other provinces.

Fernandez, who has seen his popularity slide and whose ruling coalition was badly defeated in midterm congressional elections last year, said that the state would “challenge the members of the Supreme Court” and seek to have the ruling revoked.

His remarks sparked off a backlash on both sides, some agreeing with the president that the ruling was unjustified and others saying the rejection of a Supreme Court decision set a dangerous precedent and undermined the justice system.

“The president decided to break the constitutional order, completely violate the rule of law and attack democracy,” said Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who is seen as a potential 2023 presidential candidate.

Various industry groups criticized the move as dangerous to the rule of law, while a number of regional governors sided with the president.

“This measure is, under current conditions, impossible to comply with,” said Buenos Aires province Governor Axel Kicillof.

“There are already 18 governors who denounce the partisan decision of the Supreme Court to benefit the head of the city government against all the provinces.”

  • Reuters