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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Argentina arrow Argentine Political Outlook (Set-11-19)

Argentine Political Outlook (Set-11-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Set-11-19, by Rosendo Fraga

1.     Some 48 days are still to go before the first round and 30 days have gone by after the open primaries, as the campaign began on September 7, according to the electoral law. Argentina is experiencing a political crisis, according to the effect of the primaries. Most consider President Macri has no chances of being reelected and consequently his power is limited. The likely winner, Alberto Fernández, does not exercise it, but his signs and expressions spark political and economic effects. There is dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition and both have reduced confrontation in recent days. But they are far from an agreement that can guarantee a transition, without a political, economic and social crisis escalation. The President's measures establishing greater intervention in the economy (selective debt rescheduling, exchange rate control, extension of price controls, etc.) agree with what Fernández would do and, from this perspective, favor him. But they have not been the result of a political agreement, but of the priority that Macri has put in keeping the dollar stable not only until the election, but until the transfer of power on December 10. The combination of an intensified electoral campaign and lack of a political agreement will make both the economic and political situation more difficult. The difficulties encountered by the ruling party for Congress to deal with the debt restructuring bill are an example in this regard. At the same time, the opposition will try to address the "food emergency" bill rejected by the government this week. 

2.     Alberto Fernández traveled to Spain and will also visit Mexico showing a center-left line, while Cristina Kirchner reappears with populist language, but without over-acting. The open primaries winner met with the President of the Spanish Government (Sánchez) and with the previous head of government of his party (Rodríguez Zapatero). Both represent a center-left line, in the context of a European Social-Democracy. Fernandez also met with businessmen, but in public statements he criticized the subjection to Trump that the Macri government has had. Cristina for her part made presentations of her book in La Plata and Misiones. He said he would pay the debt "but not at the expense of the people," that "those who have more will bear the greatest burden" and "nobody doubts that the IMF's money came in, the doubt is where it is." Alberto Fernández's next trip will be to Mexico and he will seek to show that his foreign policy will be that of López Obrador: an intermediate point between Bolsonaro and Maduro. There are no clashes between the members of the Frente por Todos ticket, but there is between their teams. The bid for the spaces of power in an eventual government begins. 

3.     Juntos por el Cambio begins its campaign, with the same strategy, teams and advisors, but Vidal and Larreta take distance carrying out their own campaigns. Marcos Peña is the campaign head, Durán Barba the strategist, the pollsters are the same, as are the targeting mechanisms in social media. More emphasis will be placed on the "defense of the Republic" than on "economic freedom", given the measures taken in the face of the post-primaries crisis. But while Macri's campaign is the same, this does not happen with Vidal - reinforced with her voters with the march for her birthday - and Larreta, who have defined his own electoral strategy outside the Administration. Actually, they seek independence from Macri, to prevent his bad image from subtracting votes. Getting Trump to influence the IMF to get the withheld disbursement is a priority for the President. But the US government, as reasonable, is adopting a more neutral attitude towards Argentina, as shown by the remarks of a State Department's spokesman in the face of the criticism by Alberto Fernández. The trip of the Minister of Economy (Lacunza) - who would have gained independence from Peña - to Washington to unlock the disbursement, is waiting for the US government to show favorable signs in this regard. Macri received the Chinese Defense Minister - he is number three in the real power within his country and visited the country in the framework of a regional tour - but without it being taken as a change of foreign strategy, nor as an attempt to obtain support in the Asian power, given the US reticence after the primaries. The President this month travels to New York to speak - like all the presidents of the world who request it - before the UN Assembly, an opportunity that he will try to take advantage of to meet with Trump and other heads of government of Western countries, seeking to revitalize his external support now he needs it. 

4.     With political crisis, fragile economic situation and external support in doubt, "street control" is a decisive variable in this type of context. When at the beginning of last week, the government said that it had the social situation under control, some developments showed quite the opposite: the conflict in Chubut, with the prolonged strike with road and access to oil plants blocked, and without the State intervening for a month, made oil workers free up accesses with violence; this caused on Thursday 5, a national teacher strike in support of the assaulted Chubut teachers; the same day in Iguazú, tourists who could not go to the airport due to a road blockade by pickets, were attacked by them, without public law enforcement;  between Wednesday and Thursday, social movements camped at the gates of the Ministry of Social Welfare, announcing that they would camp for two days this week and on Friday 6, a protest by the light workers' union from Córdoba, ended with incidents with the police with wounded and detained members from both parties. Each protest can have its specific cause, but together they show the issue that warns about the risk of losing control of the street. Both Lavagna as well as the Catholic Church, evangelical pastors, social movements, the CGT and the majority of the opposition claim to declare "food assistance", due to the critical social situation, in which INDEC coincides with the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA) and NGOs. The government refuses and argues that community kitchens are well supplied. This week, the opposition will try to take the bill to Congress for discussion. 

5. To conclude: 

a) Almost 30 days have gone by since the primaries and some 48 are still to go before the first round, a long time considering the crisis hitting the country, worsened by the characteristics of the Macri-Fernandez transition. 

b) In Frente de Todos, Alberto Fernandez travelled to Spain and Portugal and will also visit Mexico, showing a social-democratic line, while Cristina campaigns in low profile using a populist language. 

c) Juntos por el Cambio resumes the campaign with the same advisors, pollsters and social media strategists, but both Vidal as well as Larreta take some distance away from Macri with their own campaigns. 

d) In times of political and economic crisis and paused external support, the government does not seem to grasp the warnings issued by the increasingly stronger conflicts and protests.

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