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ARGENTINA: ANOTHER TWIST

On Sunday, October 27, Argentina has been called to the polls to hold general elections. Voters must elect president, vice president, 129 deputies and 24 senators who will modify the appearance of the Argentine Nation Congress. On the other hand, five governorates will also have been elected this Sunday: Buenos Aires, Santa Cruz, Formosa, Catamarca and Santiago del Estero.

Left Peronism , about to win in the first round?

On August 11, Simultaneous and Compulsory Open Primaries were held (STEP, hereafter). This participation tool, created in 2009 by law and designed to make more democratic decision-making within political parties and encourage participation, has been used as if it were a large pre-electoral survey. The result outlined the candidacies and the parties authorized to attend the elections of October 27.

The results of the PASO gave strong support to the Peronist opposition concentrated in the Frente de Todos, breaking any poll in their favor, with 47.6% of the vote. The duo Alberto Fernández as president, former chief of cabinet of ministers with Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, on a proposal from the own Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who reserved for itself the vice presidency in a move that surprised and dynamited all strategies electoral of his rivals[1] . Macri expected a confrontation between Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, because the former left the government in 2008 within the so-called “countryside crisis” , but Macri's predecessor in the Casa Rosada was aware that with 30% support he did not could win the ruling party in a second round, which ran as a vice president, a symbolic charge and away from the toughest part of the speech against her by Macri focused on her scandals of alleged corruption, also canceled by the worst economic situation and social of the country and by the electoral formula devised by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Mauricio Macri
Mauricio Macri, in Casa Rosada - clarin.com

On the other hand, President Mauricio Macri, with the proposal of the Peronist Miguel Ángel Pichetto as vice president, in search of the vote of the conservative right, obtained 32% of the vote for the candidacy together for Change. And this certified the failure of Cambiemos, the coalition with which Mauricio Macri won the 2015 elections, composed of Radical Civic Union and Civic Coalition, but with a guiding axis around the strategies, candidates and decision making of the Republican Proposal, that jumped from the local world until reaching the national level in those elections of 2015. The decision of Mauricio Macri to propose a Peronist as a candidate to occupy the vice presidency is the certificate of the failure of what supposed Change, but above all, it is the failure of the Republican Proposal and of Macri himself and of the speech to end “with corruption and lies”, the basis of Mauricio Macri's campaign in 2015 that allowed to build a country seriously and applied the rule of law to officials corrupt of the outgoing government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In addition, the decision to put a candidate for the Vice Presidency of Peronism was practically an obligation after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's master move, and even more so because of the need to look for a profile of a former ally of Kirchnerism, in the case of Pichetto, the key is that l a couple Macri-Pichetto embody Peronism right.

The PASO also was a great surprise to win in the province of Buenos Aires Axel Kicillof by Frente de Todos, since the former economy minister during the second executive of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner won with more than 50% of the votes ending virtually with the options of being reelected of the current governor María Eugenia Vidal, one of the great hopes for the future within the macrismo.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner regresará a la sede gubernamental como vicepresidenta de Alberto Fernández.
Cristina Fernández and Alberto Fernández in campaign - ambito.com

The themes of the October 2019 election campaign and strategy changes

To synthesize and highlight a couple of outstanding aspects, we will talk about how the candidates talk about the way out of the crisis and the decriminalization of abortion.

The Macri electoral team has insistently tried to flee the workhorse of the executive's economic management, but it has been a merit of the opposition and evidence of the reality of a large number of citizens focusing on this issue. In addition, as a result of the PASO, international markets expressed their concern by raising the price of the dollar from 42 to 59.92 Argentine pesos.[2] . This caused the Central Bank to use its reserves to finance capital flight after recording losses of 3,000 million dollars in just two days and leaving the institution without further reservations . Such a situation forced the government to what it called a “reperfilamiento ” of the external debt and to restore a measure very criticized by Mauricio Macri of the executive of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner , the “soft stocks” of capital control, indicating with it another failure of the Macri government. To this were added rebates in the personal income tax, lower VAT on staple foods and freeze the price of gasoline, thus skipping the orthodoxy imposed by the IMF. Macri also lost the Minister of Finance by resignation, Nicolás Dujovne, for having been the great supporter of the agreement with the IMF that reached the government of Macri shortly after arriving at the Casa Rosada.

Carlos Menem
Carlos Menem

Mauricio Macri came to power in a context that has driven the end of the progressive cycle[3] and with the action of the great employer of Latin America towards the conquest of power[4] . After the time of the different transitions in Latin America of the 80s of the twentieth century that replaced the different dictatorships, the great employer decided to occupy a discreet place in political life for its support in the military dictatorships of the previous decade. In addition, the new regimes were in tune with the principles of market economy and the primacy of their interests. The neoliberal reforms of the decade of the 90s of the last century caused the great employer to have a greater weight in the Public Administration, in the case of a collusion between the populism of rights of the region, neoliberalism and the great employer, case by Alberto Fujimori in Peru or Carlos Menem in Argentina. In the final part of the decade and before the change of millennium that brought as a consequence of the application of the neoliberal reforms a cycle of crisis between 1998 and 2001, the arrival of foreign capital outside the balance of the internal hegemony of each country by the privatization of public sectors and, last but not least, the arrival of governments that are contrary to their interests in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, among others. The situation for some years has caused these left-wing governments to weaken due to the depletion of the growth cycle in the international context or crisis , which has served to exploit these circumstances to boost an assault on power by business elites, such and as the study by Miguel Serna and Eduardo Bottinelli demonstrates after studying the cases of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay in the 2010-2017 cycle[5] .

Mauricio Macri was immediately greeted by the British establishment and neoliberal orthodoxy through the very influential Financial Times of November 23, 2015, where it was pointed out that the then newly elected president would have to "mark the beginning of a new era"[6] . It is no coincidence that Macri confesses himself as a regular reader of The Spring and The Rebellion of Atlas , by Ayn Rand, the author of the head of the United States neo-liberals, where the heroes of the American nationalized Russian author embody the perfect archetype of man to imitate[7] . When Macri entered as president in the Government House on December 10, 2015 he did so to develop the liberal project with greater depth and depth since the beginning of the nation in the nineteenth century , supported by business sectors, landowners and local financial groups linked to international capital. Fundamental the first thing he did was to take two measures: a package of economic measures, and another related to the press. One of his first measures , was to eliminate capital controls and hoped this would help attract investment from abroad. This meant cooperation between Macri and the IMF, an agreement with the so-called vulture funds that had the nation outside the circuit of international debt and credit markets. The measures resulted in rapid foreign currency indebtedness and the Macri government accused the inheritance received of being the source of the problems of the Argentine economy, although Macri obviously inherited a government that did not have much foreign debt.

Argentina protest against the US
Argentina protest against the US

The negotiation of a loan with the IMF under pressure before the Department of the Treasury of the United States meant that a loan of 50,000 million dollars was granted that soon amounted to 57,000 million dollars, due to the application of the orthodoxy demanded by the IMF : austerity and deregulation, and with that it was more than enough for market confidence to translate into growth . Instead, what happened was what many feared: recession and the path to some kind of guaranteed default . Poverty rates increased, inflation also and unemployment rose further driven by the destruction of tens of thousands of companies. When the situation became worse and worse and it was no longer possible to hide it, given the proximity of the electoral cycle, Macri took measures that involved price controls and the IMF decided not to demand more orthodoxy to support President Macri. But the reality also marked another evidence: a substantial part of the IMF loan had to be used to finance the aforementioned capital flight, which the defeat of the PAS forced the restoring of the so-called "soft stocks" of capital control of the last government by Fernández de Kirchner . To this is added the more than evident increase in the price of energy (electricity and gas have increased by around 400%) and of essential products resulting from the policy of the government of President Macri. This has resulted in a discontent that is translated into anger that is out in the form of elections and the hope of other policies that result in the improvement of the conditions of broad layers of society. If such an improvement were not given, there is an admiration for the revolt of the so-called “yellow vests” in France among the disadvantaged that could lead to a social explosion that at the moment has a timer that allows it to be lengthened or perhaps deactivated for another occasion. Another fact that plunges Macri even further: he promised to leave one-digit inflation at the end of his term after the swollen inheritance of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government: December 10, the date on which the transmission of the presidency is planned , the expected inflation will have almost doubled the figure it received, since a figure has been given around 50%.

The next workhorse that has marked the electoral campaign has to do with the decriminalization project of abortion that last year and after several attempts arrived at the Chamber of Deputies. This project was not finally approved, although the mobilization of feminist and progressive groups has placed this issue on the agenda as a matter of public health. Of the six candidates for the presidency of Argentina, two are in favor: Fernández de Frente de Todos and Del Caño of the Trotskyist electoral coalition Front of the Left and of the Workers; three have positioned themselves against: Macri de Juntos por el Cambio, Gómez Centurión of the NOS Front and Espert de Unite; Lavagna of the Federal Consensus has declared itself neutral.

IMF means Poverty - Argentine protest against the IMF

There has also been a change in the electoral strategies of the main candidates and their respective electoral platforms. Together for the Change of Macri has put more in second place its presence in social networks to take the streets with marches with the motto "Yes you can" to keep the vote of the middle class of the country. In Mendoza, a conservative constituency, Macri ruled in the opposite direction to the decriminalization of abortion and for the defense of life. Also from the security portfolio, new measures have been announced to prevent drug trafficking in a preventive manner. President Macri also resumed his presence on Twitter to announce that if he won he would increase paternity leave at 20 days.

Alberto Fernández de Frente de Todos can be said to have stopped campaigning and begins to act as if he were already elected president. In this sense, he traveled to Spain and Portugal to hold meetings with the president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, and make a defense of supporting international free trade in addition to addressing the situation in South America and Mercosur . Fernández also praised the presence and participation of Spanish companies in Argentine economic life and their commitment to the country in an attempt to capture more funding. Also the candidate of Frente de Todos has met with trade unionists and the Argentine Industrial Union to establish a social agreement that urges the country. An interesting aspect of Fernández's proposals has been made in a federalist key, because he has proposed to establish an alternate capital in each province in order to strengthen the links between national government and districts, and also reduce the tax co-participation rate of the city of Buenos Aires . He also sent several people he trusted to the United States to reassure the United States. "The new Kirchnerism does not have to cause fear in the United States," that is the message that has been desired. That is, there will not be a “ K 2.0 era (2003-2015)”. In this sense, Citibank congratulated Fernández and invited him to a meeting in New York to give a personal and face-to-face message to global markets in a line of tranquility. Fernández has already sent signals to imply that he will not follow such an interventionist and closed policy as the last executive of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Another message that has been made clear by Fernández is that he will try to renegotiate the debt and delay the payment dates closed by Macri and Christine Lagarde as president of the IMF.

This occasion has been the first in which two debates between the six candidates have been mandatory. The second one has had a greater polarization tone than the first one around Macri and Fernández. The other candidates ended up supporting one of the two main contenders: while Del Caño and Lavagna were with Fernández, Espert and Gómez Centurión did the same with Macri.

________________________________________
[1] This situation creates an interesting polarity of the vote between Macri and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, without wearing down and with the ability to attract many sectors of Peronism, which can prevent a ballot and win in a first round, forcing Sergio Massa , which represents the so-called federal Peronism, to change its strategy and attract it towards the proposal of Kirchnerism. It also attracted progressive sectors such as the Southern Project of Pino Solanas, the Free Movement of the South of Victoria Donda and the K radicals, as well as attracting center-left voters who are not Peronists but do not vote on the Orthodox left and would like to concentrate the vote on an option that displaces Macri from power and prepares a way out of the crisis in which there are minorities and those who have suffered the most from the adjustment policies of the Macri executive. In short, a concentration of power has been created that can be roughly defined as left / progressive Peronism.

[2] Dated October 26, 2019.

[3] The end of the progressive cycle would have begun in 2015 in Brazil when the parliamentary coup was being prepared against the presidency of Dilma Rousseff and after that would come the victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina. He continued with the transition in Ecuador after the victory of Lenín Moreno in 2017 with a clear distance from the lines followed by Rafael Correa and closed in Chile in 2018 with the return to power of Sebastián Piñera.

[4] It is worth noting the presidency of Kuczynski in Peru in 2016 and forced to resign by the outbreak of a corruption case, but was replaced by the member of the employer's association Martín Alberto Vizcarra. The same case that has occurred in Panama with Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela, Chile with Sebastián Piñera for the second time after the 2010-2014 cycle; u Horacio Cartes and Mario Abdo Benítez in Paraguay.

[5] The study includes the 801 deputies from these countries who were managers or senior executives, large landowners or important merchants before their election. The average shows that 23% had such origin. The maximum represents El Salvador (40%) and the minimum Argentina (13%), being that in the region this group represents 3.4% of the active population. When the country has a Senate, the situation becomes more exaggerated; For example, 30% of the Federal Senate of Brazil and 20% of the Senate of Uruguay come from this group. The full study by Serna and Bottinelli is available at the following link:

https://www.clacso.org.ar/concursos_convocatorias/Estudios_resultados_clacso_oxfam/Informe_Regional_vf.pdf

[6]https://www.ft.com/content/915fe6b6-91c6-11e5-bd82-c1fb87bef7af

[7] The Amphibious magazine of the National University of San Martín publishes a text by Gabriela Cerruti on the occasion of the publication by the journalist and deputy for the Citizen Unit of the book “Big Macri. From the change to the IMF ”of great interest: http://revistaanfibia.com/cronica/el-arquitecto/

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