after the attack on Kirchner, the parliament shows an uneasy unity

published on Sunday, September 04, 2022 at 04:43

The Argentine Chamber of Deputies displayed an uneasy unity on Saturday illustrating the country’s political tension, condemning the attack on Cristina Kirchner and calling for “social peace”, but seeing the main right-wing opposition party leave the hemicycle immediately after the vote.

The deputies were convened in extraordinary session two days after the attack against the former head of state (2007-2015), which gave rise to demonstrations on Friday in several cities of a country in a state of shock and to a wave of international condemnations.

The chamber, where the government coalition (center-left) does not have an absolute majority even if it is the largest bloc, adopted a motion affirming its “strong condemnation” of the assassination attempt and its “absolute solidarity ” with Mrs. Kirchner.

MEPs demanded “a rapid and complete clarification and condemnation of those responsible for this deplorable event, which undermines life in a democracy”.

“We urge all the leaders and the population to seek all the ways that lead to social peace”, concludes the brief text adopted almost unanimously by a show of hands, a small radical left party having abstained, in disagree with the wording.

But the PRO (Propuesta Republicana) of the liberal ex-president (2015-2019) Mauricio Macri, the main component of the opposition bloc Juntos por el Cambio (center-right), left the hemicycle just after the vote, without take part in the debate.

“We believe that the street, or this enclosure, is not the place to determine the culprits of a crime. The judiciary is the only one who has the duty to investigate, judge and condemn”, declared the president of the group PRO Cristian Retondo.

“We do not want this very serious fact to be used with the aim of creating more division, of blaming and even less of becoming a platform for attacking the political opposition, the judiciary and the media, as we have unfortunately heard in recent hours,” he added before stepping down.

– “The violent is the other” –

Mauricio Macri, Ms. Kirchner’s most bitter rival, was one of the first opposition leaders to condemn the attack on Thursday.

The government camp denounced the attitude of part of the opposition. “The PRO voted and left. The FIT (Left Front) abstained. It’s a snapshot of the country that hurts us,” said MP Leandro Santoro.

Among the opponents who remained in the debate, Mario Negri, of the Radical Party (social democrat), deplored “a speech which affirms that the violent is the other. It is pure cynicism, it is to see the beam in the eye of the other (…) It takes a big mea culpa to have the dignity to call for an agreement to defend democracy,” he said.

Friday, by tens of thousands, the Argentines demonstrated in several cities, with in particular an unprecedented mobilization for long months in Buenos Aires, at the call of pro-government sectors.

A large majority of demonstrators expressed their support for Ms Kirchner, but many of them also demanded “to end the hatred”, in reference to a very polarized policy.

Diego Reynoso, a political scientist from the University of San Andres, believes after the attack on Ms. Kirchner that it is “urgent to lower the tone a notch”. “But it’s difficult to know if it’s possible, given the degree + of activation + of each other”

Ms. Kirchner, 69, president of the Senate, remains seven years after her departure from the presidency an essential, albeit divisive, figure in Argentine politics.

She is currently on trial for fraud and corruption, and has seen 12 years in prison and a required ineligibility against her. Posing as the victim of a “political trial”, she de facto gave the signal for a remobilization of her left-wing Peronist current, and several demonstrations of support.

Thursday night, as she mingled with supporters outside her home, a man pointed a gun at her head, just a few feet away. For some unknown reason, no shot was fired even though the weapon, loaded, had indeed been triggered, assured President Alberto Fernandez shortly after.

The assailant, arrested on the spot, is a 35-year-old Brazilian, living in Argentina since childhood, and whose motives at this stage are unknown.

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