democraciaAbierta

Presidential elections in Argentina: silence wrapped in noise

This year is an election year. A great part of the provinces and municipalities of Argentina have already made their decisions however, on a federal level, the mother of all battles is yet to occur. Español

Dante Avaro
Dante Avaro
6 August 2019
Ballots from the primary elections in Argentina, 2011. Wikimedia Commons.

This year is an election year. A great part of the provinces and municipalities of Argentina have already made their decisions however, on a federal level, the mother of all battles is yet to occur.

The Province of Buenos Aires will carry out its election of governor and mayors on the same day that Argentine citizens elect the president and national legislators.

The agenda is as follows: on August 11, a mandatory election will be held (known as PASO) whose purpose is to resolve the internal elections or electoral fronts. The presidential formulas have a single ballot, therefore, public opinion understands that it will serve as the best tool to reveal citizen preferences. On Sunday, October 27, the presidential election will be held and if a ballotage is necessary, it will be held on November 24.

In this election, two political forces are faced. On the one hand, the ruling party (led by the party that President Macri founded) and, on the other, the electoral alliance Frente de Todos, led by the president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Thus, the presidential election can be seen as a symbolic battle between two personages: Macri and Fernández de Kirchner.

The battle that has a particularity, both have a huge negative image among the Argentine electorate. Even so, the current president Macri is going for his re-election and Fernández de Kirchner wants to have power again.

Knowing this matter, Fernández de Kirchner chose a former collaborator of her husband’s government and a conspicuous critic of her to head the presidential formula. Thus, Alberto Fernández, former Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of Néstor Kirchner, heads the presidential formula that has Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as a candidate for vice president. Thus, the presidential formula of “Los Fernández” allows Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to run away from the spotlight of public opinion.

President Macri returned the play integrating the presidential formula to the leader, for many years, of the Peronist caucus in the senator (Miguel Ángel Pichetto). Macri can't avoid public lights but raised an (ex) opponent on the political stage so that the spotlight does not focus on him all the time.

These two political forces in conflict, these two personages who want to hide from public opinion, have a scenario: The Province of Buenos Aires. The current governor of the ruling party, Maria Eugenia Vidal, is going for re-election. While Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has in this electoral district its largest flow of votes, chose his former finance minister, Axel Kicillof, as his dolphin to regain political control in the most important province of Argentina.

After 3 and a half years of President Macri’s administration, it is difficult to find an indicator of economic and social performance that has not worsened

After 3 and a half years of President Macri’s administration, it is difficult to find an indicator of economic and social performance that has not worsened, even so, the ruling party seems prepared to compete electorally.

What are the reasons for not defeating the ruling party? In this context the previous question causes astonishment, but it is pertinent and public opinion is done all the time.

The opposition (the sector led by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) made it. And the only possible answer is the following: the main reason for not defeating the ruling party lies in Kirschenerist identity and political practice.

Based on that hypothesis is that Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner invented, first, the presidential candidacy of “Los Fernández”, and then authorized and endorsed the construction of an electoral front (Frente de Todos) with former adversaries (eg the dissident Kirschenerist Sergio Masa).

The logic of the ruling party is to resist so that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner does not regain the institutional power of Argentina. While the political logic of the electoral alliance Frente de Todos is to bring together all the political sectors of the so-called national and popular field to prevent Macri from staying 4 more years.

In this scheme the two central characters of Argentine politics are, to the extent of their possibilities, hidden. Macri speaks just and necessary. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presents her bestseller (Sinceramente) with a carefully prepared agenda.

Those who have the task of walking the street, face citizens and attend to the press are, on the side of the ruling party, Maria Eugenia Vidal, on the side of the opposition, the candidate for President Alberto Fernandez. She has a double task: to seek re-election and, besides, speak for President Macri. He seeks new voters and avoids fighting with the gubernatorial candidate Axel Kicillof.

The government is useful to win by a narrow margin of votes, although it is not very clear as to ensure governance in the future.

However, the opposition only wants to win by a crushing victory. Only a magnanimous triumph would reconcile political sectors that the only thing they have in common is to avoid a new government of Macri. For now, surveys, in general, do not confirm that desire. Will they succeed?

This is an electoral process in silence. The main characters have been muted. Around this silence everything is noise

This is an electoral process in silence. The main characters have been muted. Around this silence everything is noise. A noise that tries to transport citizens to the past: so that some return, for others, that they do not come back.

In Argentina, it seems that nobody discusses the future. Among other things because the future requires words to build the horizon. Candidates, politicians, and voters do accounts, but no one tells what they are going to do.

Candidates and politicians do accounts, but nobody dares to talk about how they are going to pay the bills. Nobody dares to speak on the following question: the fiscal adjustment is already done or has just begun. That is not talked about.

For some time now noises have conquered the warehouse of words, accounts have long since avoided bills.

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