Labor chief launches fight to prevent third term for Argentina's president
Rumors abound that Fernández de Kirchner may try to amend the Constitution
A new battlefront between Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her onetime ally, powerful union boss Hugo Moyano, emerged on Tuesday when the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) chief announced he was seeking support from opposition forces to keep her from running for a third term.
Moyano, a Peronist who withdrew his support from Fernández de Kirchner after accusing her of not supporting workers, met with top members of the opposition Radical Civic Union (UCR) to look for ways to keep a possible constitutional amendment from ever passing.
The CGT leader has also come out against the government's proposal to lower the voting age to 16, saying that "kids are not prepared to elect [officials]."
Fernández de Kirchner has not yet said whether she will push for an amendment to the Constitution, which currently bars her from serving in office for more than two terms.
Recent polls suggest that between 66 and 75 percent of Argentineans do not support such a change.
The possibility of a third shot at the presidency was raised recently by Vice President Amado Boudou, who said in a radio interview that Fernández de Kirchner would need another term to achieve her goals, which include the eradication of poverty in Argentina.
Dissident Justicialist Party (PJ) members and those of Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri's conservative Republican Proposal (PRO) have also announced signature collection drives to keep Fernández de Kirchner from running again.
The presidential election will be held in 2015.
Tuesday's meeting with the radicals was seen as a significant one for Moyano. The union boss, who supported President Néstor Kirchner - the current president's late husband and predecessor - is joining forces with some of Fernández de Kirchner's bitter political enemies in the UCR.
It could also help Moyano consolidate some of the support he lost in July when the CGT split after re-electing as him leader. The government of Fernández de Kirchner came out in support of a rival, as did others who had voiced disagreement with Moyano's union policies.
Among those Moyano met were UCR national committee president Mario Barletta and congressional deputy and former presidential candidate Ricardo Alfonsín, the son of the late former President Raúl Alfonsín.
Moyano broke off with Fernández de Kirchner soon after her reelection in October 2011 when a labor conflict broke out between the government and the pilots and technicians at Aerolíneas Argentina following her announcement of cutbacks with the aim of reducing a whopping deficit.
A series of strikes this year, including one in June that paralyzed the entire capital, organized by Moyano and the 200,000-strong truckers union, have also put the CGT chief and Fernández de Kirchner at odds.
In July, the CGT federation split when Moyano allies reelected him as chief in a ballot rejected by rival unions and Fernández de Kirchner.
Noted Peronist Deputy Jorge Yoma, a presidential ally, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he is convinced that the president doesn't want to run for a third term.
"I know her way of thinking and her dedication to the republic. She is not going to force a situation during her second term so she can win a third term. She still has three more years to solve the problems of this country."
But later that day, Fernández de Kirchner seemed in an upbeat campaigning mood when she handed out deeds for government-funded houses to poor people in La Matanza district in Buenos Aires province.
"I will always be with you. The important thing is to accomplish what he would have accomplished," she said, in reference to her late husband the former president, who died from a heart attack in 2010.
"We still need to eradicate poverty and only by being united can we do this," she continued.
Macri, the millionaire Buenos Aires mayor who is expected to run for president, said he would do all he can to stop her from running.
"I believe in renovation," he said. "I do not conceive or believe in projects of eternity."
One poll released by the Buenos Aires daily La Nación at the beginning of the month concluded that two out of three Argentineans reject a reform to the Constitution that would allow Fernández de Kirchner to run for a third mandate. But earlier a lawmaker with the Victory Front, the governing coalition, said that the administration had started conversations about constitutional change. Carlos Kunkel stated that the government has the prerogative to "start discussing the matter with the population."