Buenos Aires Hours | The bad losers


With the PASO primaries apparently only a distant memory, a self-inflicted political crisis gripped the Fernández-Fernández administration. Apparently confirming theories which suggested that it was Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who was really in charge from the start, this internal tension within the ruling Frente de Todos put the vice president back in the spotlight. How powerful is it, really? At the same time, the notion of the emergence of a “albertism”Took hold, suggesting that the president could build his own power structure to repeal the Kirchnerite attack. Alberto was at his lowest since taking office last Sunday after suffering the equivalent of a technical knockout at the hands of the main opposition coalition, Juntos, but also the eternally unpopular left and even the liberals of Javier Milei and José Luis Espert, all had relatively successful elections. How strong is it, really?

Another curious fact about all this mess is the fact that it happened after the primaries were held, giving the Fernández-Fernández administration the opportunity to regain some of the lost ground with the advantage of relying on the state resources. It wasn’t going to be easy, having been handily defeated by a coalition formed by former President Mauricio Macri (with the memory of his disastrous administration still fresh) and currently led by city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. In the Peronist stronghold that is the province of Buenos Aires – nicknamed “the mother of all battles” – Juntos obtained a total of 38% of the votes, totaling the two primary candidates (Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli and neurosurgeon Facundo Manes ), against 33.6% for Victoria. Tolosa Paz. Nationally, the opposition took 40 percent, against 31 percent for the Frente de Todos. If these were legislative elections, these results would mean that the Pan-Peronist front would lose the quorum in the Senate, a devastating blow for Fernández de Kirchner who chairs that chamber of Congress. In the lower house, they would lose key allies and enough seats not to retain their majority status.

Do they have a real chance of reversing the “unprecedented electoral defeat”, as Cristina puts it? It seems more unlikely now, after publicly releasing dirty laundry and acknowledging a split between Alberto and the Peronist Falcons closer to Kirchnerism. “In the province of Buenos Aires, an inexcusable [sic] social and economic thermometer of our country, last Sunday we were abandoned by 440,172 voters that Unidad Ciudadana had obtained in 2017 with our candidacy for the Senate … with a divided Peronism, no national or provincial government to support us and the Mauricio administration Macri and his judicial teams persecuting and incarcerating former officials and opposing owners of left-wing and right-wing media, ”the vice-president wrote in her fateful letter. It’s not clear if Cristina thinks they can make a comeback, but she certainly has a lot at stake: While she called on ministers and officials who responded to her to submit their resignations, a few die-hard Kirchnerites remained. furtively at their posts, including National Treasure Prosecutor Carlos Zannini and Juan Martín Mena, Deputy Minister (and virtual) of Justice.

Blame Alberto. In the heat of the moment, the main culprit in the Frente de Todos electoral tragedy was none other than President Alberto Fernández. Yet, as stated in a column written that evening, Alberto is the perfect man to be responsible for such a mess. He led a mediocre government that was forced to face the double whammy of an endemic and painful economic crisis and a global pandemic. During his best moment, when the collaboration with Rodríguez Larreta and the mayor of the province Axel Kicillof led to very high approval ratings, Alberto doubled down on the small political skirmishes that were the hallmark of the pernicious Macri-Cristina division against which he campaigned in 2019. As he began to metamorphose into a Kirchnerite caricature, he personally made a series of unnecessary unforced errors, the culmination of which was attending a birthday party in Olivos for his partner, Fabiola Yáñez, in the heat of the moment.

And yet Alberto is an easy target. The perfect punching bag. The structural problems facing the Argentine political system run considerably deeper than the superficial and light-hearted Alberto Fernández. As in 2015, when a majority of the population was fed up with 12 years of Kirchnerism and an exhausted economic model that engendered stagflation, Macri won the mandate to oust Cristina and her crew. This same energy was palpable in 2019 after the implosion of Mauricio’s government. And it resurfaced, lambasting the Frente de Todos at the polls but also fueling the growth of anti-party candidates like Milei (who has done extremely well in the city of Buenos Aires) and the left, traditionally a huge underachiever. At least since the 2001 hiatus, but exacerbated by the last three presidential terms, a generation of Argentines has become poorer, less educated and increasingly dehumanized. The Kirchnérite epic of Néstor’s early years no longer works.

So, it’s hard to simply blame Alberto, and Ms. Fernández de Kirchner’s hard-line approach seems to make matters worse. To the point where she was forced to call Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and tell him that she was not seeking his resignation, despite months of fueling this rumor. Guzmán is all this government has between him and an aggressive market reaction akin to what spelled the end of Macri. Cristina emerges as the obvious culprit, having removed her cabinet ministers and publicly denounced the president and his administration as incompetent who executed only half of the annual budget with only three months in the year. Still, it would be excessive to blame it solely on Cristina as well. The problem in question is structural, it concerns a generalized failure of the systems with the front and the center of the Argentine state. Alberto, Macri and José de San Martín are said to have crashed this ship, which has reached a level of dysfunction that only becomes a more effective poverty machine.

Hopefully this process leads to moderation and rationality for all political actors, because all their necks are at stake. Just like our lives.

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