October 11, 2019
1. Electoral panorama
With October 27th general elections inching closer, the candidates are intensifying their presidential campaigns as they near the finish line. Alberto Fernández, from Frente de Todos, presented his “Argentina without hunger” plan, where, in the context of an intense economic crisis, he reiterates that “eating is a right and not a privilege.” Additionally, the frontrunner explained his priorities and the direction he plans on taking the country – he envisions taking action in three different stages, urgent matters, local issues and structural problems. During the presentation, however, he did not specify the concrete actions by which he plans to meet these goals. On the other hand, President Mauricio Macri held rallies in the province of Neuquén, reiterating his “yes we can” campaign his slogan. He assured supporters that the Vaca Muerta shale oil field would help the province become world-renowned “if we continue to work together,” adding a call for voters to turn out to ensure a historic participation rate. Accordingly, the first of two presidential debates will be held on Sunday.
2. Judiciary rules once again against national government policy
Alejandro Segura, judge on the labor tribunal, declared a Necessary and Urgency Decree (DNU) made by the president unconstitutional. Decree 669/2019, changed the formula determining compensation for work-related accidents, sicknesses and deaths – reducing it in many cases – was shot down on the grounds that it its unconstitutional and unconventional. cannot affect the cases currently in progress. Until recently, compensation was calculated based on a 90% interest rate, while the DNU set the base at 40%, which would negatively affect workers dependent on this compensation. This ruling adds to recent executive branch defeats in the courts, following a recent Supreme Court ruling that reduced value-added tax to basic household items. Accordingly, Justice Minister Germán Garavano rebuffed stating the actions went “against the state and against all Argentines.”
3. Frente de Todos hopes to continue close ties with U.S.
Representative and prominent Peronist Sergio Massa travelled to the U.S. tasked with convincing key actors about the good intentions of a possible Alberto Fernández government. Massa’s U.S. trip began last Friday at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Center, where he spoke about Argentina’s future, and held a private meeting with the U.S. Department of State, where he discussed the renegotiation of debt with the IMF and communicated that a new administration would be moderate and consensus-seeking. During his trip, he spoke to students and young professionals, and later met with Argentine economist Martín Guzmán, with whom he analyzed a policy focused on stabilizing the country’s economy and the role of appropriate debt policy. Massa reiterated that the next government be judged on ideas and policies, rather than “prejudice for social classes or political beliefs.” He also managed to meet with Council of the Americas chief Susan Seagal, before returning to Buenos Aires urgently as a result of the hospitalization of his wife, political leader Malena Galmarni.
4. Business chamber supports “social pact” proposed by Fernández
The Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), the nation’s largest employer federation outlined its plan for the next administration, with the intention of promoting the social pact promised by Frente de todos frontrunner Alberto Fernández. In summary, the UIA proposes tax reform, updating labor agreements and subsidies for production. To this effect, UIA leader Miguel Acevedo stated, “We are beginning to head towards what could be an agreement, which we will have to make in Argentina between representatives from labor, businesses and all the productive sector.”
5. Government grants permits for offshore hydrocarbon reserve exploration
The national government granted offshore exploration permits to petroleum companies to search for hydrocarbon reserves in an area spanning 27,803.51 km2. The permits were arranged through five resolutions by the office of the Energy Secretary, published last Monday in the official bulletin. The Macri administration ceded the permits considering that the Argentine continental shelf and the different explorational basins that comprise it are “underexplored,” and lack information to develop them.