Publish in Perspectives - Wednesday, December 12, 2012
By antagonizing the judiciary the government of President Cristina Fernandez is making it highly likely that the dispute would drag through the courts for a year or more. (Photo: Argentine Presidency)
The Clarin victory is an indicator of Cristina Fernandez' gradual loss of political control.
BY CARLOS CAICEDO
On December 6, 2012, the constitutional branch of the Supreme Court granted Clarin a reprieve over an anti-monopoly law that would have forced the media group to divest assets by December 7.
The decision constitutes a significant setback for the government of Cristina Fernandez which was preparing to intervene in several of Clarin's media companies. The new media law, approved in 2009, states that no media group in Argentina is allowed to have dominant control of the sector. Clarin appealed the law delaying its implementation. The law is a significant threat to Clarin Group, which owns a string of television and broadcasting licences.
The government reacted angrily to the court's decision claiming that the judges were in Clarin's pockets and pledging to appeal the ruling. This has put the government on a collision course with the judiciary. The latter issued a statement condemning the government's attempt at unduly influencing the courts through 'direct and indirect means'. Indeed, in the weeks prior to the ruling the government tried to get several judges removed from the case on the grounds that they were sympathetic to Clarin.
Clarin's successful appeal provides respite to the media group. By antagonizing the judiciary the government is making it highly likely that the dispute would drag through the courts for a year or more. The ruling also shows that the judiciary still enjoys independence despite the government's efforts to exert control over the top judges. This is an indicator of Cristina Fernandez' gradual loss of political control.
Carlos Caicedo is head of the Latin America division at Exclusive Analysis, a UK-based global risk consultancy.