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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 11:09 GMT
Argentina's toughest job
President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (left) in talks with regional governors
The resignation followed talks with regional allies
By Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires

Just when it appears that the crisis in Argentina has reached rock bottom, something else seems to happen to create yet more problems.

With the resignation of interim president Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, the country's crippling economic problems are now coupled with a social and political crisis.


The kind of tough austerity plans which many economists and international lenders say are needed to solve Argentina's problems do not sit happily with large sectors of the Peronist Party

There are ambitious members of the Peronist Party waiting in the wings to take over.

But the list of candidates is limited as the Argentine people have already shown that they will not accept anyone they feel has been tainted by corruption or mismanagement.

As the problems deepen, it will become increasingly difficult to find a politician who feels they have the ability to save Argentina.

The country's economic crisis was brewing for years as the country overspent and borrowed too much.

Much of the support for the Peronist Party, which governed through most of the 1990s, comes from workers who enjoyed generous social projects and wages, whether the government could afford them or not.

The kind of tough austerity plans which many economists and international lenders say are needed to solve Argentina's problems do not sit happily with large sectors of the party.

Anger turned violent

For the past two years, the Peronists were in opposition while the government of Fernando de la Rua tried to deal with the $132bn foreign debt.

As more and more Argentinians fell below the poverty line, they took to the streets to vent their anger, and after the protests earlier this month turned violent, Mr de la Rua resigned and has not been heard from since.

Mr Rodriguez Saa was chosen as interim president until elections could be held in March.

It first appeared that he had the support of his Peronist Party, but resigned when he realised his colleagues would not back his tough austerity plans.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentine interim leader quits
30 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentine cabinet offers to quit
21 Dec 01 | Business
Bush backs IMF austerity measures
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