President Alberto Fernández declared Thursday night that the suspected assassination attempt against Vice -resident Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is "the most serious" since Argentina recovered democracy in 1983.
Speaking during a televised address to the nation, the Peronist leader declared that Friday would be a national holiday so politicians and citizens could show solidarity with the vice-president.
A 35-year-old man was arrested by police on Thursday after he pushed through crowds and aimed a handgun at Fernández de Kirchner at point-blank range as the vice-president returned to her apartment in Recoleta, Buenos Aires. The gun, which did not fire, was dropped and the former president and Senate chief escaped unharmed.
"Today, shortly after 9pm, a man made an attempt on the life of the current vice-president of the nation and twice constitutional president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. This is an extremely serious act, the most serious that has happened since we recovered our democracy," Fernández emphasised in his address.
"I have decided to declare tomorrow a holiday so that, in peace and harmony, the Argentine people can express themselves in defence of life, of democracy and in solidarity with our vice-president."
He continued: "This attack deserves the most energetic repudiation from the whole of Argentine society, from all political sectors and all the men and women of the republic, because these events affect our democracy."
Fernández, who revealed he had spoken by phone with the vice-president, said that – for a reason not yet technically confirmed – the gun did not go off.
"Cristina remains alive because, for a reason not yet technically confirmed, the gun, which had five bullets in it, did not fire despite having been triggered," he said.
"An attempt has been made against our vice-president and social peace has been disturbed. Argentina cannot waste another minute, it is necessary to banish violence and hatred from political and media discourse and from our life in society," said Fernández.
"I have communicated with the judge who is investigating what happened. I have asked them to quickly clarify the responsibilities and the facts. I have also asked that they ensure the accused, who is in custody, remains alive," he added.