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Argentine Political Outlook (Nov-09-15) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-09-15 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. Less than two weeks to go before the runoff election, Macri continues to maintain a winning position, while Scioli fails to resolve the political crisis which affects the ruling party. Despite the crisis of credibility affecting the opinion polls following the results of the first round, they still remain a reference for the media and politicians. The surveys published during the weekend give a lead of 11 (Ipsos) and 8 points (Management & Fit) in favor of the Cambiemos candidate. Situations emerge based on which the ruling party tries to raise the negative campaign, such as the possibility to devalue, increase rates, or consider some privatizations raised from Macri's team, but the internal conflict between Kirchnerism and Scioli remains unsolved. Even Aníbal Fernández - that not only was the catalyst for the opposition vote in the Buenos Aires province but also affected Scioli at national level - continues making statements that complicate the campaign of the presidential candidate of the FPV. Meanwhile, Randazzo continues showing differences with the ruling National Party, but remains at the head of the Ministry of the Interior and Transportation. Scioli's wife (Rabolini) says that he is different from Cristina, but her husband shares with her a rally in the greater Buenos Aires on Friday 6. The idea that in the last days of the campaign the President will leave the center of the scene for her candidate goes against her decision not to participate in the G20 Summit, which takes place on 15 and 16 November, in Turkey to continue to participate in the election campaign.

2. But the adverse electoral scenario fails to slow or decrease Kirchnerism's retracting policy by retaining power. The Executive Branch has summoned extraordinary sessions of Congress until 9 December intending to continue using their parliamentary majorities until the last day of the term. As well as on 28 October, three days after the first round, the ruling party showed it keeps a strict control over its majority at the Senate to give final approval to the 2016 budget and other dozen of bills that create agencies and offices which shall be covered by pro-Government militants, the same happened in the Lower House in Nov 4, when it gave sanction final approval to the bill that declares the UN Convention ruling vulture funds  as a law of public order and complicates the negotiation with the holdouts, as well as another dozen bills that create agencies and establish special regimes. In addition, two leaders of La Campora were appointed for the National General Audit Office, so Kirchnerism will have 5 of 7 auditors in the next Government. Despite the qualms of some Governors close to Scioli (Urtubey and Gioja), the President of the Lower House, Julián Domínguez - defeated by Kirchnerism in the Buenos Aires primaries-, strongly imposed voting by the ruling party majority. The President has sent a group of new legal officials so that they are approved by the Senate before December 10, and the same has happened in the province of Buenos Aires, where proposals to cover 117 offices for court operators, judges, prosecutors and defenders have been submitted to the provincial Senate. But the decision of the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the surrogates law is a hard blow for Kirchnerism's strategy to retain power in justice after 10 December.

3. The issue of governance in an eventual Government of Macri is anticipated with a series of conflicts of power. The Attorney General of the Nation (Gils Carbó) has said that she will not resign if the next Government asks her so because she has the same stability as the members of the Supreme Court. She has managed to make 19 attorneys in the world support her. A legislator of the PRO (Alonso) said that she will ask for impeachment, but two-thirds of Congress are required to approve such claim. The President of the Central Bank (Vanoli) said publicly, referring to the economic policy of Cambiemos, that "they seek to devalue and encourage the flight of capital from large economic groups". Two weeks ago the Senate completed the board of this institution with new appointments, most of them are Kicillof's economists. In the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), Deputy Director Mena (who has stability in office for four years), is hiring Technopolis organizers so that they continue receiving income after December 10. In the set of agencies that Kirchnerism has created and where it seeks to retain power, only the head of the AFIP (Echegaray) has said that his resignation will be available for the next President. In this context, between 1 and 10 December the authorities that are elected by legislators themselves for both houses of the National Congress will be crucial. Cambiemos has only 15 of 72 Senators - only 4 of the PRO - and 91 of 257 national congress members - only 41 are from PRO-, which will be key to the future governance.

4. But in the short term, capturing the voters of Massa is key for both Macri and Scioli. In fact, when the former Mayor of Tigre, as well as De la Sota and Lavagna, said that he would not vote for Scioli, he took a step towards Macri. This policy was reinforced during the weekend, when Massa said that "whoever wins, the air of change won't stop". But unless there is an explicit agreement, he said that in the Lower House he will remain as the "loyal to the balance" between Kirchnerism and Cambiemos -something that could also happen in the two Houses of the Buenos Aires legislature, where he has the second bloc in the House and the third at the Senate. On the other hand, Scioli has sought an explicit agreement, saying publicly that he agrees with Massa's proposals and begging forgiveness for having doubted two years ago about the reality of the incident that the then-candidate for national Congress suffered at his home. Massa's answer was that they owe themselves a conversation after the second round. In this context, the debate that will take place next Sunday 15 may be the last possibility for Scioli to regain the initiative, but also generate the consolidation of the lead that Macri has.

5. To conclude:

a) Within two weeks of the runoff, the inability of Scioli to overcome the conflict of the ruling party prevents him from reversing Macri's lead.

b) But Kirchnerism is moving ahead with its strategy to retain power, using its majorities in Congress despite the adverse electoral scenario.

c) The conflicts around governance in an eventual Government of Macri are anticipated in the General Attorney's Office, the Central Bank and the Federal Agency of Investigation.

d) Massa's voters are a battlefield between the candidates for the runoff, with Macri attracting them implicitly in view of Massa's hints and with Scioli trying to make an agreement he still fails to get.

 
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