With the Omnibus Law fallen in Deputies, and with barely a third of the deregulation DNU still standing due to challenges and precautionary measures, Javier Milei seems to have lost his main bets to govern. In this context, there are two instruments that the President has to advance with his reforms in the coming months: the decrees of necessity and urgency and the popular consultation. However, both paths involve serious risks.
In the event that Milei decides to bypass Congress and punish the legislators, whom he himself describes as “criminals” or “caste”, he could resort to the first option, the use of DNUs. Now, in the case of, for example, wanting to privatize Trenes Argentinos: what company would agree to invest in a state company privatized via decree, given that a DNU can be annulled by another some time later?
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The decree of necessity and urgency is not an instrument that provides much legal security to face heavy capital investments in the country. Ultimately, Congress would need to intervene to give validity and legitimacy to these investments. In addition, there are some subjects that cannot be directly regulated by DNU. For example, taxes.
The day that Minister Guillermo Francos handed the Omnibus Law to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Martín Menem. (Photo: Chamber of Deputies)
The libertarian needs to recreate the Omnibus Law, perhaps with another wording, in order to later obtain delegated powers. But he absolutely needs these central issues of economic policy to be addressed in Congress.
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The second option is the popular consultation. Would it be enough to bypass Congress? We must take into account what article 40 of the National Constitution says: a plebiscite called by the President has a non-binding result. It must not be forgotten that the popular consultation is, in addition, an election. And several consequences derive from these seemingly simple details.
The presence of Karina Milei, Manuel Adorni and other Government representatives in the session in Deputies where the Omnibus Law was discussed was not enough to approve the initiative. (Photo: Presidency)
First is the economic and logistical cost that this implies. A plebiscite (yes or no) cannot be called overnight, but takes weeks or months. Which opens a key question: What is the current social mood and what will the social mood be in one or two months, if Milei decides to move forward with a popular consultation?
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Is Milei sure of regaining the 56% of the votes he achieved in the runoff in the midst of a more acute economic crisis, with a brutal loss of salary purchasing power? You are likely to get less support. And what happens if he gets more votes? The result is not binding, that is, it is not mandatory, so you will have to, no matter what, go back to Congress with a bill.
Nothing guarantees that the popular consultation is a safe path for Milei to achieve its objectives, much less sufficient to avoid Congress. Thus, the only alternative for the president seems to be to sit down and negotiate with more flexibility or to remain trapped in these instruments that today seem insufficient.