Argentina: The Political Pendulum may be Swinging Left Again in Latin America

The primary vote in Argentina last August 11 indicated quite a strong rejection of neoliberal policies in a region that has seen a wave of right-wing governments coming to power in the last ten years. The current neoliberal president Mauricio Macri lagged 15 percentage points behind the center-left Front of All (Frente de Todos) coalition party team Alberto Fernández – Cristina Fernández (no relations; also referred to as Cristina Fernández de Kirchener) whose electoral victory on October 27th is quite certain.

The primary vote was only for the purpose of selecting out the smaller parties according to Argentinian electoral process. However, the results are a strong indicator of the wide political gap between the two major contenders.

Can this be a sign that the momentum of the political pendulum towards the right in Latin America may be coming to an end, or that it may be at least slowing down?

Starting in 2009 with the removal from office of president Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, a series of parliamentary coups (Fernando Lugo, Paraguay 2012; Dilma Rousseff, Brazil 2016), political maneuvering (Inácio Lula, Brazil 2018) and at times questionable elections (Lenin Moreno, Ecuador 2017; Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil 2018; Alejandro Giammattei, Guatemala 2019; Nayib Bukele, El Salvador 2019), ushered a reversal of the Pink Tide that was taking place in Latina America. The reversal allowed a surge of right-wing governments implementing neoliberal policies. The people in those countries have not remained idle. Many took to the streets to protest the unpopular policies.

For instance, soon after Bolsonaro took office large protests started in Brazil. Analyst Andrew Korybko wrote,

“Brazil [is] a pretty bleak place to live, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better anytime soon…The right-wing leader is trying to push through a very controversial pension reform that’s already provoked massive protests and a 45 million-person strike a few weeks ago…”

Popular unrest has also been brewing in Argentina following Macri’s election in 2015 despite the fact that, only two months after taking office, the new Macri government, perhaps anticipating the wave of protests, issued legislation severely curtailing public protests. That did not stop the manifestations mostly coming from the Argentinian working class represented by the State Workers Association (Asociacion Trabajadores del Estado – ATE) organizing general strikes and road closures.

As early as 2016 demonstrations multiplied in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires and in different provinces to reject the sharp increases in public services and the long power outages. The increase in cost of public services have been constant since 2015 but more recently have seen a sharp hike of 35% to 48% in order to meet the “requirements” of the IMF in exchange for a US$5.4 billion loan intended to avoid a default by Argentina’s economy.

The Macri government tried to live up to the overly optimistic statement by David Lipton, the IMF’s acting managing director and chair, last July:

“The Argentine authorities continue to show a strong commitment to their economic policy program, meeting all the applicable targets under the Fund-supported program. While it has taken time, these policy efforts are starting to bear fruit. Financial markets have stabilized, the fiscal and external positions are improving, and the economy is beginning a gradual recovery from last year’s recession. The Fund is strongly supportive of these important policy efforts.”

Washington’s interests are never too far from the political decisions made in Latin America. Argentinian political scientist and analyst Atilio Boron wrote, “the two big losers [after the August vote] were current President Mauricio Macri and Donald Trump.” A reference to the fact that the Trump administration had directly intervened to “make sure Macri moved on without further delays in the missing structural reforms including the privatizing of the social security, labor and tax system”. These are typical IMF “structural reforms” measures.

It must have been quite a set back for the IMF to see the Argentinian economy crash following the primary vote. The Peso lost 23% to the dollar and the stock index fell by more than 34% in three days. These are the consequences of a fearfully reactive Argentinian oligarchy that collectively can send shock waves to the economy by the sheer power of their control on wealth. However, some analysts suggest that there is no reason to fear a return of a center-left administration in Argentina. Argentinian voters and the small business community certainly do not.

In an attempt at backpedaling prior to the October 27th presidential elections, Macri announced “a package of welfare subsidies and tax cuts for lower-income workers” that were quickly criticized as too little too late. Others have claimed that these late economic measures are not sufficient. What Argentina needs is a new economic model.

We remain intrigued by the fact that Cristina Fernández, very popular former president of Argentina (2007-2015), is running as vice-president in this election with Alberto Fernández, former Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, as president. But that is not an indication that her role in the future government will be minor or secondary.

Ultimately, we remain optimistic that Argentina will choose to join progressive Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and voters will signal the swinging of the political pendulum towards a more left-leaning popular government again in Latin America.

Source: OneWorld


More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry