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Argentine Political Outlook (Jan-18-16) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jan-18-16 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. The Governor of the province of Buenos Aires (Vidal) has had an important political success in getting the two thirds in the provincial legislature that allow borrowing. At the end of December, she had a setback when failing to achieve the two-thirds in both Houses of the legislature to take debt for 90,000 million pesos, which is key to governance in the province in 2016. The majority to approve the budget, the security emergencies and the penitentiary and the public works plan was already given thanks to the permanent agreement with Massa reached in December, since only a simple majority was needed. But without a sector of the FPV it was not possible to reach the two-thirds for borrowing. Half of the Peronist mayors exerted pressure on their legislators to vote for it and so did half of the 36 congress members and 16 senators the FPV has in both houses, reaching the necessary number and showing at the same time the division between Peronists and Kirchnerists, whose core is La Campora. But this involved negotiations, so the total amount of the debt was reduced by a third and 10 of the 60 billion authorized went directly to the mayors. Once this central problem was solved and having the tools to begin to reverse the problems in this area which became evident with the three fugitives, now she has called the teachers union, which is the central trade union problem affecting the province.

2. But at national level, a similar agreement allowing Macri to achieve the approval of his bills in the National Congress has not yet been reached. There are two positions in the ruling party. One favors not summoning extraordinary sessions until March 1, when regular sessions begin, and so he will rule by decree until then. The other position prefers to make a parliamentary coalition as soon as possible to take advantage of the Government's strength before it wears out. While an agreement with Massa in the Lower House allows to reach a simple majority, the ruling party prefers to negotiate with him on a law-by-law basis. The former presidential candidate remains as the faithful for balance in the lower House and the pro-dialogue opponent, and will also accompany Macri to the Davos Forum if his health condition finally lets him attend. In the Upper House, where one-third of the 42 of the FPV has questioned the President of the block (Pichetto) -expression of Peronism and the Governors- the negotiation is with them. The meeting of the Governor of Santa Cruz (Alicia Kirchner) with the Minister of the Interior (Frigerio) showed that even the most pro-K provincial government of the country needs financial assistance from the national Government. The Board of Directors of the Central Bank, the proposed two new members of the Court, the political ambassadors who have been designated and the military promotions will require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, while the agreement with the holdouts requires majority in both Houses. At the same time, the emergency decrees signed by the president will also require Congress approval.

3. Meanwhile in the opposition, the division between Peronism and Kirchnerism deepens, and the latter promotes a policy of "resistance" in public places against the Macri Administration. Peronism renews its authorities in April, but the key will be the definition in February of the districts congress members - in total close to a million - that the new authorities will elect. Kirchnerism will try to impose the President, who by now would not be Cristina, as she anticipated with her tweets that she will resume political activity soon. While the Governors, two-thirds of the senators and half of the Lower House, half of the legislators and the mayors of Buenos Aires, are no longer aligned with Kirchnerism, it seeks to use the mobilization as an instrument of a policy of "resistance". The plan is to oppose 'Macri's de facto Government', with demonstrations on the streets - as performed by Sabbatella in Rosario on Saturday - and defending Milagro Sala against her arrest. Mercosur lawmakers - led by Venezuela - accused the Argentine Government of detaining an opposition leader. As for the resistance against the dissolution of the AFSCA and the AFTIC, while Kirchnerism has achieved some favorable rulings, the Executive has had others that were neutralized.

4. But public security is still the most critical of Government, although the three fugitives were already arrested. Macri publicly assumed the problem by recognizing that mistakes had been made and that there had been lack of coordination and "professionalism". The discussion about who erroneously informed the Minister of Security (Bullrich) about the arrest of two fugitives and if at some point were detained and then not, fails to get clarified. The Government is determined to combat drug trafficking, but it implies advancing on the ephedrine investigation and its link with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by the recently recaptured "Chapo" Guzman. Without a clear security policy, the reshuffle in the armed forces - which seeks first and foremost to end the influence of General Milani, who attempted to align the Army with the K-, acquires significance given the difficulties that the Government is dealing with police, security and prison forces. One year after prosecutor Nisman's death, the Executive branch seems resolved to Foster the investigation into the AMIA bombing, his allegations about the cover-up and his death. This entails a political threat for Kirchnerism, which involves the former president as well.

5. To conclude:

a) Vidal has shown how to govern without majority in the two legislative houses by attaining the two thirds necessary for the BA province borrowing.

b) By contrast, in the National Congress, Macri postpones a similar strategy, choosing to rule by decrees, postponing but not solving the problem.

c) The FPV has split between peronists and kirchnerists, as the former favor negotiating with government and the latter want a policy of "resistance" in public spaces.

d) Public security is the most critical area for government and the decision to investigate the ephedrine case for one, and the allegations and death of Nisman for another, derive in threats for Kirchnerism.

 
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