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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Argentina arrow Argentine Political Outlook (Jul-10-17)

Argentine Political Outlook (Jul-10-17) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jul-10-17 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. A month to go before the open primaries, they acquire relevance as an antecedent of an important election, as will be that of October 22. As happened in 2013 -the only mid-term election held with this type of primaries- as there is no competition in any of the main parties competing in the province of Buenos Aires, what happens on August 13 will serve as a sort of "first round", turning the election into a sort of "second round". The electoral campaign begins legally on July 14 and this legal provision has been breached by all candidates. What actually begins that day is the use of the media spaces that the state grants to the different slates. The precedent of 2013 is clear: in the primaries the two main parties totaled 65%, in the election instead, they reached 76%. The advantage of the first one (in that case was Massa) that was of 5 points in the open primaries, raised to 12 in the election. The other parties suffered a reduction of votes in favor of the first two. In case that Cristina wins by one vote in the open primaries, two different effects may be triggered. The "winner" can muster votes from the other two Peronist candidates (Massa and Randazzo). But there can also be a "fear" effect, for which the anti-K vote may focus on Cambiemos. But if she wins by a vote on August 13, uncertainty will grow strongly, both politically and economically as the idea that she "can win" will intensify. 

2. One hundred days to go before the October elections, the most likely scenario is that Cambiemos wins in the province of Buenos Aires, without ruling out a possible Cristina’s triumph. Six surveys have been published since the slates closed in June 24. In 2 of them, Cristina wins and in the other 4 there is a draw, because the difference in favor of her or Bullrich is less than two points. As for chances, it could be estimated that Cambiemos has a 60% chance of winning in the province of Buenos Aires. Two factors play to its favor: it holds the national and the provincial offices, a key advantage to win an election in Argentina, and the Peronist vote in the province of Buenos Aires runs divided in three. Cristina may have 30% winning chances. She has in her favor the negative social situation in the Buenos Aires suburban area - where there are two every three votes of the province - that seems to evolve negatively. As an example, the sale of imported cars in June increased by 80%, while that of fruits and vegetables in the Central Market - where the stores of the suburbs buy- dropped 40%. If there is reactivation, it seems not to be reaching the lower income sectors. At the same time, the anti-Kirchnerist electoral offer is also divided into three (Bullrich, Massa and Randazzo). Massa may have 10% chances to come first. Only in 2 out of the 6 mentioned surveys, the BA province voters appear split into three, although 1PAIS (Massa-Stolbizer alliance) in third place. 

3. Meanwhile, the early election campaign has resulted in a strong political struggle. The national government is based in two pillars: the corruption of Kirchnerism and public security. The request for the removing the immunity and detention of the former Minister of Planning and Infrastructure, made by Prosecutor Stornelli and for now denied by Judge Rodríguez, is part of this battlefield. An agreement between Cambiemos and Massa, plus some congress members of provincial parties, is enough to vote for the immunity removal - or expel him - if the judge so requests. De Vido counter-attacks and challenges by saying that of the 109 billion dollars in works he awarded, the Macri group (including Calcaterra) was the third beneficiary in number of contracts and challenges any official in this group to say whether they paid bribes or were asked for them. If De Vido's removal of immunity does not advance quickly, it may lose momentum and get diluted. In terms of insecurity, Cambiemos's strategy is to deploy all the uniformed personnel possible at the corners of the suburbs and show anti-drug activities. With Cristina, the strategy is "not to answer her so as not to make her feel important". Meanwhile, she seeks to exploit the difficult social situation of the suburbs, showing testimonial cases and not figures. The pro-Kirchner trade unions and social movements called a march for August 7 on the occasion of Saint Cajetan and she asked them to suspend it because she believes it can be used against her in the campaign. For their part, Massa and Stolbizer share roles. The former hits at the social and economic situation, the latter points to the corruption of Kirchnerism. For his part, Randazzo campaigns in a critical position to the former president. 

4. The G20 Summit has highlighted Argentina's place in the global context and the challenge of being the host next year. Two weeks ago, the government announced that Macri would meet at this summit with Merkel, May, Macron and the President of South Africa (Zuma). The first canceled the encounter a week before due to her obligations of as host; May did it a day earlier because of scheduling problems and Macron limited the meeting to a brief dialogue in a corridor. But the Argentine President met with the heads of government of India, Turkey, Indonesia, South Africa and Singapore (the last one participated as a guest). Except for the first, the others are "medium-sized" countries like Argentina. The presidents of Mexico and South Korea met with Trump, the former due to the wall and the latter in relation to the crisis of North Korea. It should be noted that the heads of government of Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam (the last one was not in Hamburg) invited the Argentine President in May in Beijing to visit their countries. This shows that Argentina must give priority to the relationship with medium-sized countries in its foreign policy, with which it has real negotiating capacity and a greater spirit of cooperation. The Hamburg summit revealed that German intelligence services, focused on the risk of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, underestimated the violent groups of anarchist ideology, which wounded 160 policemen in the riots. Argentina will have an unprecedented security challenge in July next year, hosting this summit, which will require a drastic rethinking of the local security policy. 

5. To conclude: 

a) One month to go before the open primaries, these acquire importance as a sort of “first round” for the October elections, which consequently operate as a “second round”.

b) One hundred days to go before the October elections, Cambiemos has more winning chances in the BA province, but Cristina has 30% chances as well.

c) Meanwhile, the electoral campaign has derived in a strong political struggle, where corruption is at the center, although it is not clear to what extent it can influence the votes for Cristina.

d) The G20 Summit has underscored that Argentina’s space is among the medium-sized countries and the challenge entailed in being venue for the meeting next year.

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