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Argentine officials furious with court annulment of gubernatorial election

The annulment by a Tucuman court of a gubernatorial election in a stronghold of Argentina’s ruling party, outraged officials of President Cristina Fernandez’s administration and gave a boost to opponents ahead of the Oct. 25 presidential contest.

A local court in Tucuman province ruled Wednesday that irregularities were so widespread in the Aug. 23 vote that new elections are necessary. Dozens of ballot boxes were burned and errors were found in the vote count that pro-government candidate Juan Manzur allegedly won by 52% to 40% over his nearest rival, Jose Cano.

It’s the first time a court has thrown out a major election in Argentina since a dictatorship ended in 1983 and it gave a victory to opposition parties who have tried to make irregularities in the local vote a campaign issue in presidential election.

Opposition vice presidential candidate Gabriela Michetti said Thursday the ruling was a turning point because it “puts an end to attempts at fraud in Argentina.”

But the president’s Cabinet chief, Anibal Fernandez, called the decision “a judicial coup d’etat” and suggested the national government might intervene to take political control the province. He said the decision would be appealed to the provincial supreme court.

“It is one of the biggest judicial nonsense of the Argentine history. This ends inexorably in the Supreme Court of the Nation, that will have to intervene and resolve these things,” the head of ministers told reporters Thursday morning at the government house in Buenos Aires.

“It is one of the most flagrant and cumbersome ways of forum shopping, very likely because of the friendship (the judges) have with (opposition candidate José) Cano,” the minister stated accusing magistrates of “doing friends favors.”

The pro-government’s coalition representative in Tucuman, Marcelo Caponio, said that he supports removal of the judges who voted to annul the election

Likewise Victory Front (FpV) presidential candidate Daniel Scioli accused the opposition sectors of pushing to “discredit an election” the federal administration won “by more than 100,000 votes.”

In statements to the Radio 10 station, Scioli urged opposition leaders to “respect the popular will” as he considered the intervention of the Supreme Court “necessary.”

Finally the opposition’s leading presidential hopeful Mauricio Macri praised the “courage” Tucumán province judges had, after they declared the controversial gubernatorial elections celebrated on August 23 as “invalid”.

“It was an important step for the Argentina we want,” Macri stated, adding: “The election was irregular. It didn’t respect the minimum requirements of transparency and legality. Now, new elections must be called as soon as possible and the governor must accept the ruling.”

Merco Press

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MercoPress is an independent news agency started in 1993 which focuses on delivering news related to the Mercosur trade and political bloc, and member countries, covering an area of influence which includes South America, the South Atlantic and insular territories. MercoPress offers an update of the main events which model the Mercosur integration process, the current customs union, its influence on the main players of the region as well as the relations with other economic-political spaces.

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