Almost no one knew with certainty that Javier Milei would assume the presidency of Argentina. Would the eccentric television talk show host who never spared disqualifications towards “the caste” do it? The ultraliberal economist who promised to dollarize the country and eliminate the Central Bank in record time? Or perhaps that synthesis softened by Macrismo that he showed off in the last weeks of the campaign? We didn’t have to wait too long to answer the question. In a matter of a month, Milei has carried out its shock plan in the form of a Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU, for its acronym), which dismantles the economic structures of the State, in addition to an omnibus law with another 664 measures that remain in the same direction. They will begin to govern at least until the two Chambers of the legislative branch express their rejection. The political analyst Ignacio Labaqui In conversation with LA RAZÓN, he analyzes the first steps of the Milei era.
Javier Milei has sent to Congress a bill with a total of 664 articles whose preamble officially declares a “public emergency.” It affects practically all branches of the State. What are, in his opinion, the most delicate aspects?
The fundamental aspect is to request a very broad delegation of powers for a period of two years that is self-extendable for another two years. He is asking Congress to delegate an innumerable amount of powers, which are powers of the legislative branch, for the entire presidential term. And I would also mention the fact that one of the articles directly ratifies the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) presented last week, which has to follow another procedure that is regulated by a law that deals precisely with how Congress should proceed on the DNU. The limitations on the right of assembly also seem quite controversial to me, just to mention a few aspects. In general, I would say that the most controversial thing is to ask Congress to give up practically all of its powers and give them to the president for a period of four years. To a president who in the first round obtained only 30% of the votes and who barely has 10% of the seats in the Senate and 15% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
The omnibus law, as it explains, involves transferring to the executive branch broad legislative powers in economic, financial, fiscal, health and even electoral matters, with the elimination of the PASO. It would be governing above the legislative power. Is this constitutional?
Yes, it is contemplated by article 76 of the Constitution. But first it has to be approved by Congress. The Government of Alberto Fernández also began with a broad – although not so broad – delegation of powers, with a law declaring an emergency. Milei is copying the same practices that Peronism has carried out. It happened when Carlos Menem came to power, who obtained the laws of State reform and economic emergency from Congress; when Eduardo Duhalde came to power in 2002, who also declared the economic emergency, with which Duhalde himself and the Kirchner governments governed. And Alberto Fernández, who governed based on an emergency decree and a law that gave him extensive delegation of powers. Milei’s case, however, is a little more extreme.
One of the most controversial clauses, as it says, is the one related to concentrations. The text indicates that any demonstration must be notified in advance and the Ministry of Security may oppose or propose changes. How do you value this point? Does it have enough popular support?
The Constitution says that all inhabitants of the Republic of Argentina enjoy a series of rights, including the right to assembly, but that all these rights are regulated by law. Now, a regulation so severe that it speaks of the right to assembly of three people like the one indicated in the bill that the president sent is almost equivalent to declaring a state of siege. The question of popular support seems secondary to me. It is evident that a large part of the citizenry is fed up with street closures, for example, or blockades of factories and these types of forceful measures that are punishable in the Penal Code. In any case, the question is whether it is constitutional to limit the right of assembly in such a severe way, regardless of whether or not it has popular support.
Unions and social organizations had threatened to call a general strike and at least the General Confederation of Labor (GGT), the most important union in the country, has done so. What do you think the consequences could be?
We are going to see quite a few social protests against the decree and against the law. But it would not put unions and social organizations on an equal footing. The unions are not a monolithic bloc, and they are going to evaluate the terrain. In any case, they are exposed to significant criticism, because there has been a significant deterioration in the purchasing power of salaries and stagnation in formal private employment in the last 12 years, which has worsened in the last four. And then the criticism is: «and what did the unions do while Alberto Fernández governed and inflation accelerated and the purchasing power of salaries was destroyed? Why didn’t they react sooner? Why did you support the candidate of Unión por la Patria? [Sergio Massa], who was the Minister of Economy and who saw how inflation went from 70% annually to almost 200% annually? That is why the unions are going to measure their actions carefully. They are not, as I say, a monolithic block. And neither do social organizations. One thing is the power of mobilization and another different issue is popularity. Unions and social organizations have a lot of mobilization power, but that is not reflected in votes, otherwise Juan Grabois would have been the candidate for president of Unión por la Patria (UxP) and there would have been many more union deputies within UxP. We are not yet facing a phenomenon that could have such serious consequences. What’s more, Milei would like to see a general strike to be able to present social organizations and unions as part of “the caste” and continue to rely on a large part of public opinion, that is, on that electorate that voted for him no longer in the first place. but in the second round.