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De Vido survives expulsion vote in Lower House

Lawmakers stand for the national anthem ahead of the session that would see Julio De Vido survive an expulsion vote

Former Planning minister to remain in Congress after pressure from Let’s Change, Massa

Julio De Vido survived an expulsion vote in the Lower House this week as Let’s Change (Cambiemos) and Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front (FR) fell short of rounding up the two-thirds majority required to eject the former Planning minister.

Indicted several times in graft and criminal cases, De Vido has borne the brunt of accusations from Let’s Change and the Renewal Front caucuses as they sought to remove him from the court on “moral” grounds. On a vote on the floor on Wednesday, 138 votes for De Vido’s removal were insufficient in light of the 95 votes against and three abstentions. Assuming perfect attendance, De Vido would have been safe with 86 votes in his favour.

De Vido enjoys immunities from arrest and search as a lawmaker, and some in the ruling coalition have sought to have those benefits removed, citing the ongoing investigations. Formally, De Vido remains under investigation despite his Congressional privileges. De Vido, who as minister between 2003 and 2015 controlled public works, energy, telecommunications, mining, housing, water resources and transport, is also a close ally of former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Debate on the floor was particularly harsh and heated on Wednesday, with lawmakers trading insults and barbed commentary throughout the day. De Vido denied the accusations on the floor.

De Vido was not excluded from the Lower Chamber thanks to the support of Victory Front (FpV) lawmakers and their three allies and other caucuses that have split from the Kirchnerite fold like the Movimiento Evita, union leaders Omar Plaini and Hector Daer. The former Planning minister was also supported by Santiago del Estero’s Frente Cívico, Federal Commitment, headed by the Rodriguez Saá siblings, and six lawmakers from the Justicialist caucus.

In turn, Let’s Change, with 86 seats, was backed by Frente Renovador, which contributed with 33 of its 37 votes, Margarita Stolbizer’s Progressives, by some members of the Justicialista and several single-lawmaker caucuses.

Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña yesterday held that even though the Lower House decided not to expel De Vido, the fact that the issue was debated at Congress represented “a step ahead” and remarked that “now the power is in hands of voters” during the October’s mid-term elections.

“Even though we didn’t reach the two-thirds, this leaves a very clear message for these elections. The power now is in the hands of voters,” Peña told Mitre radio station yesterday morning.

Herald with Télam

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