Argentina’s new Congress was installed Thursday with the caucus backing president-elect Javier Milei as a minority in both houses, a fact that will condition the radical reforms the libertarian proposes to take when in power.
Next Monday, on the first day of his government, Milei is planning to request opening a period of extraordinary sessions to debate an ambitious package of economic reforms that will include sweeping state spending cuts to reduce the fiscal deficit and contain an inflation rate running above 140 percent.
La Libertad Avanza (LLA), Milei’s party, has only 40 of the 257 seats in the lower house Chamber of Deputies and just seven of 72 senators.
The Peronist opposition will be the biggest party in both houses with 105 deputies and 33 senators, thus looming as the biggest obstacle for a new government seeking the approval of laws, along with the five left-wing deputies.
Among his allies, Milei can count members of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition, including the PRO party of former president Mauricio Macri, with 40 deputies, and potentially lawmakers from the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), with 35.
To a lesser extent he can also look to deputies from the Coalición Cívica (CC, six deputies) and a medley of dissident Peronists and provincial party deputies (26 in total).
In the Senate LLA may well be able to count on the support of the Juntos por el Cambio caucus (24), which has grouped PRO, the UCR and the CC since 2015, while negotiating with provincial parties (eight).
The quorum to session and approve laws in the lower house is 129 deputies. In the Senate, 37 is required.
In Argentina, deputies and senators are elected to represent political parties but the seat is personal, permitting them to cross the house floor to other caucuses if desired.
According to the local legislative tradition, both houses will be presided over by La Libertad Avanza.
Martín Menem, the nephew of the late ex-president Carlos Menem (1989-1999), will be Speaker and Francisco Paoltroni provisional president of the Senate.