The government officially announced via decree (how else?) today that it will hold extraordinary sessions in Congress beginning tomorrow and lasting until February 29 in order to debate the appointment of judges, military personnel and diplomats.
The main focus will be the start of the legal procedure to appoint Horacio Rosatti and Carlos Rosenkrantz as justices of the Supreme Court, following Macri’s controversial and failed attempt to appoint them via emergency decree (DNU) in December.
Remember that this is a big deal because the first time Macri appointed the candidates, he attempted to bypass the Senate vote that is normally needed to confirm Supreme Court candidates by appointing the judges via DNU while Congress was in recess. He ultimately retracted the DNU, but the damage had already been done. Basically, many people were very upset about what they saw as an abuse of executive power.
Macri is now going through the traditional channels and presented his Supreme Court nominations to the Senate on February 1. However, since Congress is currently in recess, extraordinary sessions had to be called the kick off the debating process. Cambiemos, Macri’s party, will have to get two third of Senate votes in a session that holds quorum in order for the candidates to be appointed, which will be impossible without the approval of the Justicialist (or Peronist) Party (PJ).
The Peronist caucus — here “caucus” refers to a group of politicians from the same party who vote along the same lines — currently holds 51 out of the 72 seats in the Senate, making it by far the most influential party in the chamber. This means Cambiemos’ nine senators will have to start working on their sweet-talking abilities to have a chance at getting Rosatti and Rosenkrantz into the Supreme Court.
These appointments are so important because at the moment, there are only three Supreme Court justices, which is the lowest number needed in order for the court to hold session. The maximum number of justices is five. In order to pass a resolution, at least three judges must be in agreement. However, since it’s obviously more difficult for all three members of a three-person Supreme Court to unanimously agree on a resolution than for three out of five justices in a five-person Supreme Court to be in agreement, resolutions are much more likely to be passed with five justices.
In addition to the Supreme Court justices, the appointments via emergency decree of a number of ambassadors will also be reviewed and debated. Among these are Ambassador to the US Martín Lousteau, Ambassador to the Uruguay Guillermo Montenegro and Ambassador to Panama Miguel Del Sel.