Alberto Fernández’s government suffered a heavy defeat in the midterm primaries at the weekend – a result that indicates the ruling Peronist party may lose control of the Senate in the crucial November election. The centre-right opposition coalition Juntos took 41 percent of the nationwide vote and left the government trailing on 30 percent after 96 percent of all votes were counted.
The ruling party suffered defeats in 18 of the 24 districts, including the capital Buenos Aires, as the government comes under fire for coronavirus policy and rising levels of poverty.
The shock result comes 12 months after President Fernandez claimed the Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as Islas Malvinas, were “illegally occupied” by the UK.
Speaking at the 75th United Nations General Assembly, the Peronist leader also claimed Britain had an “excessive and unjustified military presence on the islands”.
He said: “I want to reaffirm the legitimate and imprescriptible sovereign rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime spaces, which are an integral part of the national territory of Argentina and which have been illegally occupied by the United Kingdom for more than 187 years.”
Mr Fernandez added: “The UK also insists on the excessive and unjustified military presence on the islands that does nothing more than bringing tension to a region characterised by being a zone of peace and international cooperation.”
The Falkland Islands is a British overseas territory in the south-west Atlantic Ocean and has been the subject of a dispute for decades.
Argentina claims it has the rights to the islands and says it was inherited from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s.
Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, prompting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to deploy troops.
Almost 1,000 soldiers were killed during the resultant war, which resulted in Argentinian forces being expelled and the UK reclaiming the islands.
Argentina and the UK restored diplomatic relations in 1990 and the Falkland Islands remain self-governing, but foreign affairs and others defence matters are handled by the UK Government.
In 2013, residents of the sparsely-populated Falkland Islands voted for it to remain a British overseas territory.
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President Fernández acknowledged mistakes had been made and vowed to turn things around ahead of the November midterm vote.
He said: “We have not done something right and all of us must now listen to the verdict. There is a demand that we have not satisfied and that from tomorrow we will pay attention to.
“The campaign has just started and we have two more months [to the Legislative elections].
“I have two years of government ahead of me and I am not going to give up, and I humbly ask you to help us. In November we are going to turn this story around.”