A HIGHLY POLARIZED NATION
Encouragement or autocracy? "DANIEL will continue our great work!" Shouted ARGENTINE President CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ DE KIRCHNER at a campaign event with party colleague and presidential hopeful DANIEL SCIOLI. The 58-year-old governor of the province of BUENOS AIRES, who leads in polls with about 42 percent, remained as always discreet and noncommittal.
Both of them belong to the PERONIST party - a collective movement, ranging from neoliberalism, conservatism to socialism and far the left. While KIRCHNER is considered a center left politician, SCIOLI, who never was the first choice candidate of CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER, seems a more moderate, business-friendly candidate with neoliberal tendencies that do not differ much from his main adversary MAURICO MACRI. This makes it difficult for the bourgeois opposition to snatch the Presidency from the PERONISTS movement in this Sunday’s upcoming Presidential election. The best chances to challenge SCIOLI, according to recent polls, has the mayor of BUENOS AIRES MAURICIO MACRI, a right wing former businessman, who comes short of 30 percent.
MACRI is the son of a self-made immigrant millionaire, who’s only real entrepreneurial achievement so far was resurrecting the legendary BOCA JUNIORS soccer club from rock-bottom to a successful club some years ago.
"Keep the current model" versus "liberal market opening" are the alternative, for the estimated 32 million eligible voters. The fact that both models have reached their limits, making the decision for voters in ARGENTINA not any easier. The neoliberalism of the 1990s ended with the financial crisis and insolvency of the country in 2001. Then the KIRCHNER’S emerged – first CRISTIAN’S late husband NESTOR, who died 2010 ruled the country, only to be succeeded by his wife, who adopted a more autocratic stance on ruling the country, conducting difficult and negotiations with the creditors, nationalized enterprises, and imposed harsh currency exchange controls.
The model was successful: The economy was growing, poverty declined 2003-2013 from 9.9 to 3.7 million, the middle class doubled and the International Financial institutions fumed over the ARGENTINE success story by defying neoliberal financial and economic doctrines.
THE REAL OPPOSITION IS THE MEDIA IN ARGENTINA
The hopelessly divided opposition which in reality are self-seeking one man shows supported by the powerful CLARIN media conglomerate argues that this success had been achieved through high social transfers, bloated bureaucracy and subsidies that made electricity and transport in ARGENTINA unbeatably cheap. The fall in commodity prices (soya, corn, wheat etc.) cut deep in the states budget, thus making it difficult to maintain the necessary level of spending.
Glancing at the economic data shows that the country really is facing economic problems: The artificially high peso casts a burden on the trade balance and inflation is estimated at 25 percent. The opposition also lambasts the current administration for being corrupt. They refer to the rapid accumulation of wealth of the KIRCHNER family, which also includes CRISTINA FERNANDES DE KIRCHNER’S son MÁXIMO, who is running for senator in this Sundays upcoming elections.
The opposition, mainly individual politicians, are deeply split in a center right and left movement which in themselves are even further divided.
MACRI’s polls show that he only has a chance if he manages to achieve a runoff. In such scenario the currently third placed, dissident Peronist ex-MP and former Mayor SERGIO MASSA, could be the tip of the scale.
In the final days of campaigning MASS gained enormous ground over MACRI and thus could even end up in second place on Sundays elections. According to some political observers, the chances of SCIOLI winning in the first round have risen since MACRI’S campaign team has made some serious tactical as well as strategic mistakes, thus loosing ground.
In summary the three candidate’s economic stance does not differ too much from one another but are in deep contrast to the current administrations economic model. The big question is also if the three will continue to fight the hedge fund (also referred to as vulture funds) of ELLIOT Management who have been in a legal battle over debt issues with ARGENTINA for some time now and who have been facing increasing criticism from the UN as well as other institutions for their questionable business practices.
Ultra-right candidate MACRI clearly will heed to the neoliberal doctrines and pay the hedge funds in full, thus putting the country once again into even higher debt and financial dependence from organizations such as the IMF the WORLD BANK to name but a few, thus fostering austerity and economic stagnation. But then again one cannot be certain that SCIOLI will not do the same.
Our opinion for Sunday’s most likely election outcome is as follows:
- SCIOLI wins the first round and MASSA could be the big surprise and emerge in second place
- SCIOLI will face a run –off with MASSA
- SCIOLI will face a run – off with MACRI in which MASSA once again will be the tip of scale in the run – off election bid.