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Argentine Political Outlook (Jan-25-16) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Ene-25-16 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. The presence of Macri in the Davos Forum confirms the shift of the Argentine foreign policy with respect to Kirchnerism. The first step was his presence at the Summit of Mercosur Presidents in December, where he claimed to Venezuela for political prisoners and broke the alliance with Chavism that had characterized his predecessor. The second has been his presence at the Davos Forum, meeting with the Vice President of US (Biden), the British Prime Minister (Cameron) and the French Prime Minister (Valls), which implies rebuilding the broken dialogue with the Western powers during Cristina Kirchner's second term. The third will be in late March, when he attends the Nuclear Summit in Washington, involving fifty countries (Argentina, which has Latin America's largest nuclear capability, has attended this event since it started). This will be the opportunity to meet with Obama. In a gesture, the U.S. Government announced that it will no longer vote against loans for Argentina in international financial organizations. In the private sector, negotiating with the holdouts will take longer than expected initially in Congress and finally will require its approval. The President, citing health reasons, decided not to participate in the Summit of Presidents of the Community of Latin American States (CELAC), which takes place this week in Ecuador, and keeps giving ambiguous signals with respect to contracts signed by Cristina with China and Russia. The presence of Massa allowed the President to show that he may have the support of a sector of the opposition.

2. In domestic policy two opposition lines emerge after a month and a half of Government. The first and most important are the Governors, 13 of whom signed the petition that emerged at the Summit held in San Juan, claiming for the 15% return of the co-sharing returned by the Supreme Court in December. The necessity decree which rose by 167% the Buenos Aires cosharing percentage unified the opposition Governors, who this week will meet with the Minister of the Interior (Frigerio). The second line is the mobilization that is being generated around Milagro Sala's arrest. On Friday, Jan 22, hundreds of roadblocks across the country called for her release. Participants included pro-K groups, left-wing parties as the FIT (Trotskyist), organizations of human rights and other groups such as Quebracho. These protests spread abroad and add the support of Chavism, and Amnesty International. Trade unionism is not an opposition sector as such, but the combination of layoffs, high inflation and a fall in the price of oil create a front of conflict.

3. But it is the relationship with Congress and the Judiciary where Macri has his most important political problem to solve. The way has been shown by the Governor of Buenos Aires (Vidal), who in less than 40 days and having a ratio of parties similar to the national Government - without a majority in any of the two provincial chambers - attained a permanent coalition with Massa that gave a majority to approve the budget and security and penitentiary emergencies, two thirds to allow the provincial borrowing and appoint the Board of the Banco Provincia with the agreement of the provincial Senate. This hastened the division of the FPV between Peronists and Kirchnerists, with the former in a pro-dialogue attitude. But Macri has chosen to rule by Decree at the national level. The security emergency came out this week by decree; political ambassadors are being appointed "in commission", i.e. without agreement of the Senate, as is the case with the one designated for Washington (Lousteau); committees of both houses still have not been formed and the parliamentary legal process commission which validates the emergency decrees, exactly composed by halves between the ruling party and its allies with 8, and the FPV with other 8, has not appointed its President yet. Two members of the Supreme Court appointed by decree have not still been able to assume. The Minister of Justice (Garavano) has said that the appointment is firm and it only remains for the Supreme Court to take their oath. But at the same time the normal process of appointments in the Congress is over and the Executive Branch is ready to send the documents to the Senate Agreements Committee, calling extraordinary sessions in February to do so. Macri met with the President of the Court (Lorenzetti) seeking to close positions after the allegations of illicit enrichment against him presented by a central Cambiemos figure as is Elisa Carrió.

4. But the issue of public security is the most critical one that the Government faces and which can strongly affect its image in the public opinion. The flaws are still showing. On Monday 18, the Minister of Security of Santa Fe (Pullaro) said that, in his presence, a commander of Gendarmerie, Mr. Mesa, informed the Security Minister (Bullrich) they had captured two members of the "triple escape", causing the error that led the President to say that they had captured the three when it was not true. In the early hours of Wednesday 20, the two heads of the Santa Fe gang of drug-traffickers called "Los Monos", transferred to the federal prison in Ezeiza to prevent their escape, had to wait 5 hours in the hall due to "lack of space". By the weekend the news was that the AFI (former Side) had again detected in Paraguay the mastermind of the "triple crime" (Perez Corradi), who escaped again. The security and penitentiary emergency that was issued by decree is an instrument, but it is not clear how it will be used. But the President has decided not to make hastened decisions for now, keeping pro-Kirchner officials at the helm of national and provincial prisons.

5. To conclude:

a) Macri's presence in Davos confirms the foreign policy shift towards the West and the possible meeting with Obama in late March will be the culmination.

b) Two opposition lines emerge: a pro-dialogue line around the PJ governors and another that supports the claim for Milagro Sala while trade unions are a matter to solve.

c) Macri continues ruling by decree and postpones the creation of a parliamentary coalition, unlike Vidal, who has managed to make it dividing the provincial Peronism.

d) But the problem of public security is the most critical one of the Macri Administration in the short-term, especially because the fight against drug-trafficking is one of the three government pillars.

 
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