Argentina’s president has lost a crucial vote in the Senate after her own vice-president cast his deciding ballot against her to defeat a controversial law on soya-bean tax.
The government had wanted to benefit more from the country’s soya-bean bonanza and the current high prices on the world’s markets.
The centre-left president, Cristina Fernandez, had already won narrow approval for a tax rise in the lower house.
But the issue split the country and, in a marathon 18-hour debate, even some of her own senators broke ranks and sided with the farmers against the rise.
Soya is the country’s leading crop, accounting for nearly a quarter of Argentina’s exports last year.
The government wanted to change the current fixed rate of 35 per cent tax to a whopping 47 per cent, prompting four months of bitter animosity.
Soya has become hugely popular with farmers since genetically modified strains were introduced in the 1990s. Most of it goes for export.