Tuesday, February 20, 2024

OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 18-09-2021 09:14

Cristina gets what she wanted: a lot of Cabinet changes

Manzur comes in as Cabinet chief, with Aníbal Fernández to Security portfolio; Cafiero becomes foreign minister, with De Pedro, Guzmán and Kulfas retained in key positions.

Chats were active all day and all night, telephone conversations began at dawn, and meetings were held throughout the day. The leaders of the ruling party sought on Friday to resume tense negotiations hours after Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner reached their maximum point of tension. Yet without any actor willing to break the Frente de Todos alliance, both its key sectors, together with Frente Renovador leader Sergio Massa, began to assemble a Cabinet at speed, reacting to the defeat on September 12.

Juan Manzur will be the new Cabinet chief. Until a few days ago, nobody would’ve thought he would’ve been Fernández de Kirchner’s choice. The Tucumán governor was the first provincial chief to support Alberto Fernández’s presidential candidacy, but he had unresolved disputes with the Vice President. He only remained in Frente de Todos thanks to the policy of unity. But Fernández de Kirchner laid it out plainly in her letter: it was a name proposed by her, despite the differences between them.

Santiago Cafiero will remain in the Cabinet, but as foreign minister. Alberto Fernández decided to retain him, even if it meant the departure of Felipe Solá.

The other leader who joins is Aníbal Fernández. Eager to join the government, the veteran politician has a good relationship with the president, though he has never been summoned until now. He will be Argentina's new interior minister, replacing Sabina Frederic who had been targeted in recent weeks for her statements about how “boring” it is to live in Switzerland. 

Another of those returning to Cabinet is Julián Domínguez. He will be responsible for the Livestock, Agriculture & Fisheries Ministry, replacing Luis Basterra. He is one of several others from the Fernández de Kirchner governments who return – Daniel Filmus will be in charge of the Science & Technology portfolio.

The departure of Nicolás Trotta as Minister of Education is also a key part of the reshuffle. In his place comes Jaime Perzyck. Paradox: up until now he was deputy minister of Education and last week he presented a letter of resignation, together with a dozen Kirchnerite officials. Resign to be promoted.

The place of Juan Pablo Biondi, who resigned under criticism from the vice-president Friday, will be taken by Juan Ross, who today works under Media & Public Communication Secretary Francisco Meritello. 

The outstanding feature of the changes is that the minister who was already out will continue in office: Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro, who resigned Wednesday.

Late Friday, the main partners of the alliance were trying to agree on names that mean much more than a change of the names of the Cabinet. The idea is, as a first sign of exit from the crisis, that the Frente de Todos can show strength beyond the disputes between the president and the vice-president, whose bond will take longer to rebuild.

For this reason, the old faces of politics were called upon by experience.

Sergio Massa did not move anything, Kirchnerism won positions and will ensure that the agreement entails a change in economic policy too. A Peronist cabinet, with experienced names that represents everyone, that was the objective. In a sign of the president’s concession to that line, De Pedro will remain in place. 

The interior minister’s lack of a move, as well as the return of names such as Aníbal Fernández, has demonstrated once again that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is still the majority partner of the alliance.

The bond is broken, but both president and vice-president know about fights and reconciliations. Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner know each other like nobody else and now coexistence depends only on them. 

One thing, however, is already certain: the contract they made that took them both into the Casa Rosada lasts until December 2023. After that, it will be difficult for either side to renew it.

Rosario Ayerdi

Rosario Ayerdi

Jefa de Política. Mail: [email protected]


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