Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Crucial holdout vote today
President Mauricio Macri heads a rally in Exaltación de la Cruz yesterday.
Divisions within the Victory Front (FpV) Senate bloc are set to be exposed today as the country’s administration holdouts bill faces a decisive vote just over two weeks before the government’s deadline to pay holdout creditors. While a precise vote count is still up in the air, Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto — chair of the FpV bloc — was not only committed to voting in favour of the bill yesterday but also that support from sectors of the FpV would ensure that the bill will be approved.
When the bill under consideration made its way through the Lower House, the FpV voted overwhelmingly against, but the greater influence that governors have on senators has proved sufficient for at least a significant segment to vote with the government.
“It is unfair, painful, the funds are unscrupulous, but the reality is that we have lost a case and the punitive interests that are so damaging to Argentina are mounting,” Pichetto told Radio Con Vos yesterday, adding that he would be voting in favour and there “is going to be a significant percentage of senators who, in line with the provincial governments, are going to be supporting this measure.”
The vast majority of governors invited to speak in the Senate gave the measure their support, with only the provinces of Santa Cruz and Santa Luis expressing concerns.
Aware of the political significance of his decision to vote for the bill that gives congressional approval to the government’s negotiations with holdout creditors, repeals articles of the Padlock Law and the Sovereign Payment Law and authorizes the government to issue US$12.5 billion in bonds, Pichetto dismissed that his vote was a concession to foreign interests.
“I don’t believe in emotional schemes: in Argentina, every time that these kinds of mechanisms were used, the worst mistakes were committed. That is the Argentina of the soccer pitch, of the hooligans. When people yell ‘Argentina, Argentina’, the worst things are done to the country,” Pichetto said. The FpV in the Lower House framed the debate as a choice between the “vulture” funds and the nation.
Pichetto said that while he was not yet sure if a majority of the FpV in the Senate would lent its support, that there was nonetheless enough backing for the government within the bloc to ensure that the law be passed. The FpV has over 40 votes in the 72-seat chamber, and as such the government needs its cooperation in order to pass legislation. The Herald has learned that Pichetto also helped the government to convince Senator Carlos Menem to vote in favour of the bill.
Upper estimates placed the number of votes in favour of the bill at approximately 50, an overwhelming amount considering that the government has about 15 votes of its own.
A group of over 15 FpV senators lead by Senator Juan Manuel Abal Medina (Buenos Aires) has already announced that it will oppose the bill, setting the stage for clash of opinions on the floor. Senators Anabel Fernández Sagasti (Mendoza) and Virginia García (Santa Cruz) are part of the Kirchnerite bloc that will be voicing their opposition. In a bid to stave off a formal split, the FpV has granted senators a free vote.
Pichetto also stoked controversy within the bloc by saying that former president Néstor Kirchner would have agreed with the decision to pay the holdouts after they won the court case.
Former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner resisted any kind of settlement with the holdouts that was not on the terms of the 2005 and 2010 debt swaps.
Yesterday, Kirchnerite figures in the Lower House such as lawmaker Juliana Di Tullio had taken issue with Pichetto’s comments.
Herald staff with DyN, Télam