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Argentine Political Outlook (Nov-30-15) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-30-15 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. Macri begins to define his political strategy, which consists of not having a coalition government, but reaching consensus for governance. The cabinet he designed confirms that the Executive branch will not be a tool to create political deals and participation in power. Out of the 20 ministers he will have, only three are from the radical party, although one of them -minister of agriculture- is also a rural leader. Fifteen belong to PRO or come from the business sector. One minister from Cristina will remain -the minister of science and technology- and another -minister of tourism- who was part of De la Sota's cabinet in Cordoba and is related to Peronism in the provinces. The Chief of Staff (Peña), perceived today as the "strong man" of the new Government, is surrounded by business executives. There is no representation in the Executive branch of the two key sectors for governance: Peronist Governors and Massa's Frente Renovador. As the Executive branch is discarded to articulate governance, the pact referred to by the President-elect would require a parliamentary coalition, which will be essential to govern, given that the FPV will keep the majority in the Senate and will be the first minority in the Lower House. The way in which Macri organized Cabinet, with little political participation, is similar to what the other two businessmen who were elected president in Latin America in the XXI century: Fox in Mexico and Piñera in Chile. But the idea of brokering a "governance pact" without a "coalition government" resembles the strategy led by Peña Nieto in Mexico, who sealed a deal with the other two relevant parties in the country to make important reforms, without giving them a true involvement in government.

2. As the Executive branch has been defined, the coordination of the legislative branch will be decisive in the coming days. From Dec 1 to 10 December, the legislators, who will be in office in the next term, should choose their authorities. For Macri, it is very important that the Provisional President of the Senate, who is third in the presidential succession, is a Senator from Cambiemos, although this party has only 15 of the 72 senators. Also the fact that a national congress member from PRO (Monzo) is elected President of the Lower House, although Cambiemos has only 91 of 257 national congress members. For this purpose, an agreement would be convenient with Massa, whose bloc has 30 national congress members, and he should add other 8 from provincial parties or independent Peronists. How the Senate Commission of Agreements, the Commission of impeachment, the Commission of Budget and Finance and the Bicameral, which validates the decrees of necessity and urgency (DNU), will evidence the degree of power that the future Government will have in Congress. As anticipated, the Governor-elect of Buenos Aires (Vidal) has signed an agreement with Massa to have the majority in the Lower House of the province. The president of the House is a Frente Renovador legislator (Sarghini), who displaced the FPV, which is the leading minority. This alliance would be forged at the provincial Senate, where the current ruling coalition will be the leading minority. In this way, Vidal is gaining legislative governance in the province, just what Macri should reach in the national Congress.

3. But the battle for governance also involves dismantling the structures of power that remain from Kirchnerism. The offensive to remove the head of the Central Bank moves forward with the judicial process conducted by Judge Bonadío and Prosecutor Taiano due to irregularities with the future dollar. A prosecution led by Bonadio in this case is the argument the Executive branch can needs to request the Senate the removal of the Central Bank leaders. Now, the removal of the Attorney General of Nation (Gils Carbó) is more difficult. She has said that she will step down and was backed up by one of the members of the Supreme Court (Highton de Nolasco). To remove her, two-thirds of both houses of Congress are needed. But the court rulings against the ruling coalition increase day by day, although the Supreme Court decision that returns to three provinces (Córdoba, Santa Fe and San Luis) 15% of revenue co-sharing that the Executive has retained since 2006, is an economic and political problem for the new Government. The AFSCA (Sabbatella) and AFSTIC (Brenner) authorities whose terms end in 2017 and 2018 respectively, also refuse to give up and so does the director of the state-owned media outlets (Bauer). Replacing the heads of the UIF, the CNV, the PRC and the AFI (the intelligence service) are also tasks that the Executive branch should solve by combining legal and political actions to take actual control of power.

4. Meanwhile the FPV shows differences, but Cristina operates to exercise power until the last day and projects herself as leader of the opposition. The President wants the former head of the AFIP (Echegaray) to be the head of the National Audit Office, but the governors want it to be one of them (Fellner). In the Senate, where lawmakers respond to the Governors, they seek a dialogue-based approach with Macri, but pro-Kirchners are inflexible. In a negotiation position, a spokesman of Cristina (Kunkel) proposes that she becomes president of the Justicialist Party and a former Governor (Gioja) president of the FPV in the Lower House. But for now the President has achieved that on the same week of the electoral defeat, both Houses of Congress approve her bills, although it was necessary to reach an agreement with left-wing lawmakers left for this. The President met with Senators and asked them that on the same week when Macri takes office, they should give final approval of the 94 laws approved by the Lower House last Thursday and that they resist attempts of removal of the Central Bank head and the Attorney-General of the nation after the 10th of December. On Tuesday, 1 December, she will meet with the pro-Government Governors, seeking to influence on the Senate. At the same time, La Campora is summoning the K militancy for 10 December so that they demonstrate on the streets to make Cristina's farewell the beginning of her return to power in 2019, something that seems not easy today.

5. To conclude:

1) The cabinet defined by Macri confirms that he will not preside a coalition government and that he privileges good administration and cohesion over politics.

2) The governance pact he will propose seems to follow the model of the "Mexican Pact" and will require a parliamentary coalition.

3) Forward-looking, Macri will face a series of battles to remove the Kirchnerism remaining structures in the various sectors; for this, he will have to combine legal and political actions.

4) Peronism is different from Kirchnerism but the president is unusually resolved to keep the Executive, Congress and governors aligned to the last day.

 
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