By Bala Chambers
LONDON (AA) - Argentina swore in six new ministers Monday after a hard-hitting week for the country’s ruling coalition and a heavy primary election defeat.
The Cabinet reshuffle is aimed at quelling tensions and gaining voter trust ahead of the midterm election on Nov. 14 as Argentina continues to grapple with a deep economic recession and the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19.
During a lively ceremony at the Bicentennial Museum in the capital Buenos Aires, President Alberto Fernandez spoke for several minutes and said he wished to offer some reflections after the previous week’s events.
In reference to the political tensions, Fernandez told the crowd that had gathered that “they will not see me trapped in unnecessary disputes, in internal disputes -- my only concern is that Argentines become happy again after so many misfortunes in the four years that preceded me and the two of the pandemic.”
Fernandez also said he has been listening to citizens, as "I want to keep my word to understand why people voted as they did."
The president thanked the former ministers, who he said faced the challenges caused by the global pandemic.
The six new ministers sworn in were Juan Manzur (cabinet chief), Santiago Cafiero (foreign affairs minister), Daniel Filmus, (minister of science and technology), Anibal Fernandez (security minister) Julian Dominguez, (livestock, agriculture and fisheries minister) and Jaime Perzyck (education minister).
According to the local daily InfoBae, Juan Ross also becomes Secretary of Communication and Press.
Tensions came to the fore last Wednesday after the ruling Frente de Todos coalition faced a string of resignations following a heavy defeat in the midterm primary election on Sept. 12, which typically provides a strong indication of how citizens will vote ahead of polls.
On Thursday, Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner took to her website to write a public letter. She circumvented the press, hitting out at the perceived errors of the coalition relating to fiscal policies and called for changes in the ministries, a decision which appeared to heighten tensions between the political factions within the party.
President Fernandez had earlier called for unity within the coalition and had pledged to guarantee "the unity of the Frente de Todos based on the respect that we owe each other.” He also appeared to make reference to his own leadership, noting that his administration will "continue to develop in the way that I deem appropriate.”
On Friday, President Fernandez announced a Cabinet reshuffle amid tensions reportedly between those close to him and those loyal to Kirchner within the coalition.
Frente de Todos has a majority in the Senate and is eager to maintain it ahead of November’s midterm vote.