Exacerbating the tensions facing the ruling coalition, the Frente de Todos Senate caucus fractured in midweek with the decision of four senators to abandon the ruling coalition and form a new caucus with the Córdoba Peronist Alejandra Vigo.
The new caucus, which will be called Unidad Federal, will consist of Edgardo Kueider (Entre Ríos), Carlos Mauricio ‘Camau’ Espínola (Corrientes), Guillermo Snopek (Jujuy), Eugenia Catalfamo (San Luis) and Alejandra Vigo (Córdoba).
News of the breakaway is bad news for the government. Its upper house caucus, headed by Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will now have greater difficulties reaching a quorum of 37 senators.
Following the split, Frente de Todos is now an inter-caucus of 31 senators divided into two groupings: the Frente Nacional y Popular with 19 legislators and Unidad Ciudadana with 12.
Espínola and Kueider belonged to Frente Nacional y Popular under Formosa Senator José Mayans, while Catalfamo and Snopek formed part of Unidad Ciudadana, headed by Juliana Di Tullio representing Buenos Aires Province.
Government senators are now reduced to 31, while the Juntos por el Cambio inter-caucus has 33, thus converting it into the first minority.
The news came less than 24 hours before the Senate resumed its activity in the form of the "preparatory" session to appoint upper house authorities and establish the days and timetables of the sessions for this year although in the absence of Fernández de Kirchner, the chief of the upper house.
"The Unidad Federal caucus comes to plant the need to create a political space to represent a truly federal agenda and the Argentine provinces," pointed out the senators in a joint statement.
"The Unidad Federal caucus is a new space of political confluence between senators representing different electoral districts who agree on the path of seeking consensus and understand the need to construct an alternative within the Senate responding to the new challenges posed by our territories and representing the citizens who elected us via the popular vote," read the communiqué, released on Wednesday afternoon.
Fernández de Kirchner also received a communication signed by all the members of the new caucus. It indicated that Unidad Federal will be headed by Snopek while Vigo will be the deputy chair.
"My decision has been motivated in the first instance by the increasing distance I feel from the course of the administration of President Alberto Fernández, far removed – according to my humble understanding – from the priorities which our people demand," argued Snopek in the first paragraphs of his missive to the vice-president, to which the Noticias Argentinas news agency had access.
In another part of his letter the senator detailed: "The absolute deterioration of the rule of law in my province, which began in late 2015, has only deepened since 2019. There has been a huge disappointment, in that sense, for all of us who believed that the inauguration of Alberto Fernández could represent a new future."