Last June I discussed the possibility that President Cristina Kirchner would try to reform the constitution so she could run for a third consecutive term.
Last week the president appeared to float a trial balloon to see how people would react to such a move.
The constitution currently allows only for two consecutive terms and hers expires in 2015.
On Friday virtually all of Argentina’s major newspapers reported that Vice President Amado Boudou had said it was important to debate the idea now, and not in three years time.
I wrote something like this for Dow Jones Newswires:
In radio interviews Friday, Boudou downplayed the controversial reports. But he didn’t deny all of them and he carefully worded his answers to leave the options open.
“It’s not time to talk about those things,” Boudou said in an interview with Radio 10. “I can’t say today what’s going to happen the day after tomorrow. We all experience unexpected and unpredictable things that aren’t in your schedule now but that might be in your schedule another day.”
Boudou admitted to being at a political event in a coastal city Thursday where constitutional reform was discussed. He said he was there as a “political militant” and that things discussed in such meetings should remain private.
“A lot of things were discussed,” he said.
It could be that Kirchner simply wants to keep the talk alive to avoid becoming a lame duck early in her term.
As the estimable journalist Roberto Guareschi noted via Twitter, “In a difficult year, the re-reelection will keep PJ barons cautious. And Malvinas talk might serve as a distraction.”It’s unclear if Kirchner really wants to run for a third term. But it seems abundantly clear that she’s content to have people talking about the idea.
Last year Kirchner scoffed at the notion that she would try to reform the constitution, saying that if she couldn’t get Congress to pass her 2011 budget how could she get it to amend the the constitution.
But she didn’t put the issue to rest with this comment. After all, she didn’t say reforming the constitution was a bad idea. Nor did she said she’d never do such a thing. She simply said she didn’t have the power to reform the constitution. At the time, at least, she didn’t.
But after winning October’s election with 54% of the vote, and seeing her party earn solid majorities in both chambers of Congress, that may no longer be the case.
Kirchner is incomparably more powerful now than she was last year.
That’s disconcerting to opposition politicians and Kirchner’s critics, many of whom fear the president wants to make Argentina more like its ally Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez has a nearly unparalleled grip on power.
But to Kirchner’s supporters, it could be the perfect way to ensure that the political and economic “model” now in place endures for many years to come.