A number of government ministers and officials who will run for elected office in the upcoming PASO primaries and midterms are to resign their posts, on the orders of the president.
In comments widely reported on Wednesday evening, President Alberto Fernández said that the "ethical" choice is for candidates to resign, as they would not be able to fully concentrate on their existing roles while campaigning.
Two notable names on the Frente de Todos’ PASO slates are the ministers of Social Development and Defence, Daniel Arroyo and Agustín Rossi, who this week launched congressional runs in Buenos Aires Province and Santa Fe Province respectively. Public Works Minister Gabriel Katopodis will also be expected to step down, as will Victoria Tolosa Paz – who will top the Frente de Todos list of candidates for national deputies in Buenos Aires Province – currently the head of the Federal Council for Social Policy.
Arroyo, confirming he would step down on Thursday, said that his decision to run for office was part of a decision to provide “legislative volume” and support the work of his portfolio.
"We have done very important work within the Social Development Ministry. On the one hand supporting the social situation, I generated several programmes, the Tarjeta Alimentar [food card], the Potenciar Trabajo programme. That is why I am a candidate for deputy, it has to do with institutionalising these processes," he stressed.
Rossi’s situation is the same, though a little more complicated. He will head half of a split opposition ticket in Santa Fe, facing off against another slate of candidates backed by the government and provincial Governor Omar Perotti.
Tolosa Paz announced on Thursday that she would resign her post during an event in Junín, saying she was in agreement with the president’s arguments that ministers must be fully committed to their posts.
"Those of us who accept [the decision] to represent a political space in an electoral process are aware that we must step aside, because it implies a burden and a challenge that is not compatible with the responsibility we assume when appointed to manage in the public function,” she said.
"I want to thank the president for the enormous trust he placed in me to preside over a body that aims to go through the design and implementation of social policies," added Tolosa Paz.
Speaking from Lima – where he attended the inauguration of Peru’s new President Pedro Castillo – Fernández said that the closing of lists for the primaries had been "a litmus test" for the ruling coalition and that he was "very satisfied" by the outcome.
"I propose that each candidate of the Frente de Todos expresses this will, to face the future with great rigour and conscientiousness, and that we work so that no Argentine lacks healthcare. We have peace of mind [later] that we did everything," he said.
"We are going to wait for my return [from Peru] and we are going to put all that in order. All those who are candidates must leave their positions. It is a rule that I set," said the president.
"It is an ethical rule that I want to preserve and the truth is that [the loss of] Daniel Arroyo is very big, also the loss of Agustín [Rossi] is very big for me. The loss of Vicky Tolosa Paz, it is very big, but it is the rule that I imposed on myself.”
A number of lower-level officials will also have to leave their posts to comply with the president’s wishes. They include Transportation Articulation Secretary Marcela Passo, Public Works Secretary Martín Gill (who is already on leave, given he is the Mayor of Villa María, Córdoba); and Enrique Cresto, the administrator of the National Waterworks for Sanitation.
Finally, Daniel Menéndez, a leader of the Barrios de Pie social organisation who also serves as an undersecretary in the Social Development Ministry, is also expected to step aside.