-After a grueling 20-hour debate, the House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, in cases in which the woman’s life or health is at risk, or in those deriving from rape. The final vote tally was 131 for and 117 against it, a broader margin than the first time legalization was attempted, when the bill barely made it through the lower chamber by 129 to 125 and ended narrowly defeated in the Senate, 37 to 31.
The bulk of the vote came through the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, which had 81 votes for legalization and 32 against it. In the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition, Mauricio Macri’s PRO party had 11 positive votes and 40 negative ones, the Radical Civic Union (UCR) had 26 for and 18 against it, while Elisa Carrió’s Civic Coalition had 4 positive and 9 negative.
Thousands of people, most of them women, took it to the streets throughout day and night to support the bill, wearing the classic green shirts, scarves and now also facemasks, while a minority of pro-life supporters were also seen wearing sky-blue and displaying religious symbols. A very tight race is now expected in the Senate, which could discuss the legalization bill’s final approval in the week before the New Year.
-While all the attention was focused on the lower chamber, the Peronist-controlled Senate took advantage to pass some controversial bills under the radar. One was the reform of the formula to calculate pension payments, which is likely to result in less generous stipends and save the state some money when compared to that of Mauricio Macri’s government, especially if inflation continues to outpace salaries. Also approved was the decision to cut the amount of re-distributable taxes given to Buenos Aires City, in line with what President Fernández announced as a solution to the BA Province police strike back in September.
-The Buenos Aires City government was not slow either, and took the opportunity to pass some controversial reforms in the local legislature as well, some of them in response to what Peronism was doing in the Senate. The City Legislature voted for a new tax on credit card usage for porteños, a new tax on Central Bank notes, tripled fines for some parking infractions and authorized a series of spending cuts, looking to balance the budget after losing part of its income to BA Province.
-Another noticeable event was the shared public appearance of President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, at an event in a former concentration camp used during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, after speculation that the two had not been in speaking terms over the last few weeks, especially since Cristina Kirchner’s critical letter against some unmentioned government officials last month.