Hernan Etchaleco: Opposition takes over vice-presidency in Argentina while markets go haywire

After weeks of discussions, the Peronist party went ahead on Thursday with their intention to place Ramon Puerta, National Senator from Misiones province, at the top of the Upper Chamber and therefore, will assume presidency while President De la Rua is out of the country, Reuters reports. Ruling Radical Party senators walked out the Parliament in disagreement with what they considered as “an institutional coup” by the Peronists. Radical party head, Governor Angel Rozas, blamed on opposition of having “a pathological hunger of power”.

President De la Rua had earlier said that it would be “correct” if, as parliamentary tradition goes, the provisional Senate presidency is controlled by the ruling party. He also expressed that talks of “institutional coup” were exaggerated.

All in all, it became clear now, that the opposition controls a key post after the appointment of one of its members at the top of the Upper Chamber. After the resignation of the vice-president last years stands second in the presidential line of succession.

Different points of view have been heard in Buenos Aires yesterday. Some analysts expressed that the little efforts from the government to avoid this scenario, had an answer in the intention of President De la Rua of showing to the markets a national deal, which includes all political expressions to take out Argentina of its long term crisis. Other voices claimed this is the first step Peronist gave to remove De la Rua from presidency and take over power before the national elections in 2003.

On Thursday, markets went haywire: Buenos Aires Stock Exchange went down 5%, lowest level in ten years; Interbank rates went up to 300% and Country risk closed over 3,200 points. A volatile mix of default fears and political squabbling made markets drop down and the situation remained uncertain by Friday opening.