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Argentine Political Outlook (Jan-11-16) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jan-11-16 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. Macri has completed a month in office showing a clear direction and strong dynamics. In foreign policy, his criticism of Chavism in the Mercosur Summit and his decision to go to the Davos Forum, entail a change of substantial direction; the same happens in the economy with the removal of the dollar ban and the start of negotiations with the holdouts; in this line also fits the rebuilding of relations with the farming sector; the dismantling of the AFSCA (media) and the AFSTIC (telecommunications), entail dismantling the policy of Kirchnerism in this area which is decisive; on cultural matters, both from the ministries of culture and human rights as well as in the management of public media, a policy of strong change compared to Kirchnerism is promoted; in politics, the "art of the agreement" is proposed and from the Ministry of the Interior dialogue with the pro-Government Governors and opponents is encouraged; in the social field, the union-run social welfare funds are controlled by unions, and a yearend bonus will be collected by those who are benefitted with the Universal Child Allowance. In Science and Technology, the minister under Kirchnerism (Barañao) is confirmed to continue, giving continuity to positive developments in the nuclear and satellite fields. Now, there are two areas -public security and parliamentary coalition- which have pending tasks.

2. The triple escape from the Buenos Aires province prison, which lasted fifteen days, put in evidence the Government failed to have a clear change of direction in public security. As head of the Ministry of Security someone without background in the area (Bullrich) was appointed; in the Ministry of Security of Buenos Aires, another political leader without knowledge in the matter (Ritondo) was named, who was unable to respond to Aníbal Fernández' challenge to undergo a rhinoscopy; as head of the Federal Agency of Information (AFI) - former SIDE-a notary (Arribas) who does not have knowledge or expertise on the subject was appointed and also questioned for his activity in the purchase and sale of soccer players; in prisons, Kirchnerist officials were confirmed, leaving the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (Blanco) and appointing Diaz for the provincial service, which he already ran from 2005 to 2009. This lack of professionalism and coherence was put in evidence during the "triple escape". The problem is that public security and drug trafficking are the leading demand of the population and also generate strong political sensitivity, as it has become evident. The Government must now rethink its policy, once past the episode. Macri must now assess the impact of the political cost that has been generated and how he will fix it.

3. The other problem is the lack of a parliamentary coalition without which it will not have governance as Cambiemos will not have the majority in any of the two houses of the Congress. The Buenos Aires Governor (Vidal), beyond setbacks, is succeeding. Through an agreement with Massa, she has obtained simple majority in both chambers of the provincial legislature and negotiates with sectors of Peronism the two thirds needed to get the provincial borrowing approved. In the two Houses of the provincial legislature, the FPV is divided between Kirchnerists and Peronists. By contrast, in the National Congress, the decision has been made to rule by Decree until March 1, without convening extraordinary sessions. The Court -without confronting- has already put limits on the Executive: refused to take oath to two candidates appointed to the Court by Executive order; it delayed passing the telephone tapping from the procurement to the Court, decided by means of a decree of necessity and urgency (DNU), and postponed the oath of a PRO member of the Council of the Magistrates (Tonelli), appointed in a controversial voting in the Lower House. Macri has used the urgency decrees on four occasions (Ministries Act, transfer of phone tappings to the Court, extension of the new code of criminal procedure and the dismantling of AFSCA and the AFSTIC), which must be confirmed by the Congress, and the initial step is the report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, composed of 8 senators and 8 congress members. Half of the 16 are from the FPV. Massa is the third party in Parliament, but Macri does not support a permanent alliance with him in this House, although he invited him to the Davos meetings.   

4. Meanwhile the opposition lacks unity since it is focused on the reorganization of Peronism. Some 8 Buenos Aires FPV senators have admitted being Peronists and 8 Kirchnerists. Among provincial congress members, 24 are Kirchnerists and 12 Peronists. Among national senators, 15 are Kirchnerists and 27 Peronists. Among national congress members, these numbers have not yet formalized. Most would be Peronist, but Kirchnerism owns the leadership of the bloc. The renewal of authorities of the PJ, which will be in April, will probably not solve this division and will give way to a transitional leadership or a formal division. Meanwhile, the meeting and photo presented by Massa, Urtubey and Bossio, shows the attempt to create at the same time a generational renewal and an alternative to Kirchnerism. The division between this and Peronism, which is successfully using Vidal, is Macri's possibility to build the parliamentary coalition he needs. Peronism is thus divided into three: Kirchnerists, Peronistis per se and dissidents or "Massists". For a governance agreement, Macri needs the last two, only one is not enough. For her part, Cristina will soon return to politics, Scioli refuses to step down from the stage and La Campora strives for not losing its street mobilization capacity.

5. To conclude:

a) Macri has completed his first month in office with concrete and effective actions in foreign policy and the economy, reorganizing the media and cultural policies, and negotiating with governors and unionists.

b) The fugitives evidenced the lack of a public security policy, a weak point that government will have to solve.

c) While Vidal is moving towards a coalition with sectors of peronism, Macri chooses to postpone it and rule by decree until the ordinary sessions on March 1.

d) The FPV is divided between peronists and kirchnerists and Massa does not abandon the PJ as this division is Macri's opportunity to make a parliamentary coalition.

 
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