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Fifteen blocs for 60 City legislators

The City Legislature swears in its new members yesterday.
By Mariano Beldyk
For The Herald

It marks the most fragmented Legislature since the era of former mayor Aníbal Ibarra

After the 30 newly elected BA City legislators were sworn in yesterday, a first glimpse into how the 2014 Legislature’s balance of power between the major parties will play out became clearer.

This picture —just a snapshot because outgoing legislators will continue in their seats during the last key sessions this week and probably until next Tuesday, showed a multi-caucus chamber with a total of 60 lawmakers divided into 15 groups.

Consequently, it will be the most fragmented chamber since former Mayor Aníbal Ibarra’s era, before City Hall’s current head Mauricio Macri took office in 2007.

This marks a 25 percent increase from the current 12 blocs although many of them will continue working under the same umbrella they have been using for years, such as Kirchnerism.

Some, on the other hand, will welcome old allies under new umbrellas, like Unión-PRO and UNEN, while minor parties, whose members failed to secure re-election last October, will simply cease to exist, at least for the next two years.

Major players

BA City’s centre-right ruling party PRO will continue being the first minority in the Legislature with its 28-member caucus. They need 31 votes to ensure quorum, the necessary number for a simple majority vote without depending on negotiations with other forces.

Even if its 2014 list adds two new seats, the truth is Macri’s party didn’t increase its number of lawmakers after last October’s elections, it just tacked on old allies who ran for the first time during the last campaign under a single umbrella: Unión-PRO.

The new caucus will emerge from the association of PRO and national congresswoman Patricia Bullrich’s Unión por Todos who partnered with Macri after breaking its long-time alliance with UNEN’s architect Elisa Carrió.

Bullrich’s caucus in the local Legislature — renamed Bases para la Unión — has two legislators of its own from 2009 who have acted in unison with the 26 PRO lawmakers in recent years.

“It’s a decision we took after the elections, both at a national and local level. It’s about being true to our commitment”, former Bases para la Unión legislator Juan Pablo Arenaza told the Herald.

On the other hand, Kirchnerism will be the opposition force with a 12-member front formed by four different parties: Victory Front (eight), ex-mayor Ibarra’s Progressive and Popular Front (two), the leftist Alternativa Popular (one) (renamed Izquierda Popular) and the unionist party Sindical Peronista (one).

Former foreign minister Jorge Taiana was rumoured to be President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s first choice to head the front but, apparently, he couldn’t garner enough support to take the helm, especially from the ultra-Kirchnerite youth organization La Cámpora.

In his place, current lawmaker and journalist Gabriela Alegre will assume the leading role.

Finally, the UNEN coalition will make its début in the Legislature with a unified voice formed of the 11 legislators who came together to form a bloc for last October’s midterms.

For the first time in years, the Radicals (UCR) won’t be present on the floor under their traditional umbrella.

Two smaller forces will tip the balance between Mayor Macri’s allies and Kirchnerism: Public Confidence (two) headed by Graciela Ocaña and Nuevo Encuentro (three). If the former sided with PRO during the outgoing Legislature, the latter has long leaned towards Kirchnerism.

Finally, smaller parties like the Workers’ Leftist Party with Trotskyist Marcelo Ramal and the leftist MST’s Alejandro Bodart will also be present in the 2014 chamber.

@Mibeldyk

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