BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández made it official Tuesday that she will not be running for president again, putting the brakes on an effort by members of her party to push her to become a candidate in October elections.
Fernández, who was president 2007-2015, made her decision public through a statement on her website in which she slammed the judiciary, accusing the courts of trying to forbid her from running for office again as part of an alliance with the opposition.
With her decision, the center-left Fernández throws the ruling Peronist party into disarray amid uncertainty over who could be its candidate in this year’s presidential elections.
President Alberto Fernández, whose tenure has been marked by an ongoing economic crisis that has included a sharp devaluation of the local currency and annual inflation of more than 100%, already said last month he would not be seeking reelection.
“I will not be a puppet of those in power for the sake of any candidacy. I have demonstrated, like no one else, that I prioritize the collective project over personal ambitions,” Cristina Fernández said.
The 70-year-old vice president said she’s prevented from running for office by a prison sentence of six years and a lifelong ban from holding public office she received late last year as part of a case involving corruption through public works during her presidency. She has denied all charges and the ruling still has to be confirmed by higher courts before it becomes effective.
“I will not engage in the perverse game they impose on us under the guise of democracy,” she wrote.
Allies of the vice president have been pushing for her to run for the presidency and regularly chant “President Cristina” during her public appearances. Although Fernández, who is not related to current president Alberto Fernández, had already said she wouldn’t run for president, she often played coy in public speeches.
The vice president published her statement days before allies had announced a big rally in downtown Buenos Aires on May 25, which is a national holiday in Argentina, to push her to run.
With both the president and vice president out of the running, all eyes are now likely to set on Economy Minister Sergio Massa, a center-right Peronist who has long had presidential ambitions although his tenure in the office he took on last year has not gone as he hoped.
Massa had said his goal was for monthly inflation to decelerate to 3% by April. Instead, it accelerated to 8.4%.