Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández announced Friday that he will not seek re-election for a second term this year, a decision that follows months of infighting among the ruling coalition as it grapples with a fragile economy and runaway inflation.
The unexpected announcement by the center-left president, which he made through a video posted on social media titled “my decision,” came as coalition members put increasing pressure on him not to run and polls showed rates of decreasing approval.
The decision immediately rocked Argentina’s political landscape months before the August primaries and October presidential elections.
During the seven and a half minute video, Fernández never actually said that he will not run for president, but he made that intention clear by saying that on December 10 he would hand over the presidential sash to whoever. elected, adding that he will “work earnestly to be a partner from our political space.”
Fernández acknowledged that “it is clear that we did not achieve everything we set out to do” during his administration and said that now he wants to “focus my effort, my commitment and my heart on solving the problems of Argentines.”
Internal disputes in the ruling coalition have come to light and for months allies of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have been asking Fernández not to seek re-election so they can better design an electoral strategy before the primaries.
Fernández has seen plummeting opinion ratings as Argentina has been economically stagnant for years, with more than 50 percent of children living in poverty and a soaring annual inflation rate of more than 100 percent.
About seven in 10 Argentines view Fernández negatively, according to a March survey by Giacobbe & Asociados, a local consultancy. Only 10% have a positive image of the president, according to the survey.
The president’s decision not to seek re-election comes at the end of a week in which the local currency has suffered a sharp depreciation in the financial markets and the prices of sovereign bonds have plummeted.