The lower chamber of deputies in Argentina has granted general approval to the comprehensive reform bill proposed by libertarian leader Javier Milei in a vote on Friday, following several days of discussion. This sets the stage for a crucial vote in the Senate.
The contentious set of changes was passed with 144 votes in favor and 109 against.
The lower house of lawmakers will vote on the legislation separately, starting on 6 February. The overall approval indicates that it will likely advance to the upper house in some capacity.
In recent days, demonstrators holding flags and opposing Milei’s changes have engaged in confrontations with police outside the neoclassical congressional building with a green dome. They have sometimes thrown rocks at the officers.
The extensive bill is a crucial component of Milei’s proposed reforms for Argentina’s struggling economy. The country is currently facing challenges such as an inflation rate over 200%, dwindling foreign currency reserves, and a potential crisis with debt repayment to creditors and investors.
The changes included in the legislation cover a wide range of topics, from economic strategies to the privatization of government-owned organizations. These reforms are a key component of Milei’s efforts to address the severe economic crisis in South America and prevent depletion of state funds.
The decision was made after a lengthy and intense discussion in the lower house. Members of the main center-left opposition party, Union por la Patria, strongly opposed Milei’s policies, while his supporters urged them to not impede the bill.
Milei’s party, La Libertad Avanza, does not have a significant number of seats in the 257-seat chamber. However, they were able to garner enough backing from similar allies, including the main centre-right coalition of parties, Juntos por el Cambio, to move forward with the bill.
The previous week, the government led by Milei removed controversial spending changes from the fiscal portion of the bill, resulting in a successful strategy to increase its approval.