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Argentine Political Outlook (Apr-19-16) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Apr-19-16 - by Rosendo Fraga

1. The political comeback of Cristina surprises those who thought that Kirchnerism was a political expression in extinction, but not those who thought that it is in decline. The situation is similar to that under the Menem and Duhalde Administrations -the other two versions of Peronism in the last three decades. Both, Menem as well as Duhalde, did not end their terms the day they left power in 1999 and 2003, respectively. The former, three and a half years later won the presidential election in the first round, although he refused to compete in the ballots, and the latter, eight years later ran as presidential candidate but lost the election. Something similar will happen with Kirchnerism. It is no longer capable of controlling Peronism, but can be a political player in the short and medium term and this is confirmed by both, the speech of the former President and the demonstration launched in her support. She was compared with Yrigoyen and Perón - two great political leaders of the 20th century - and harshly criticized Macri. She regained political centrality and thrilled her militancy, but not more than that. Under the drive of the Wednesday demonstration of April 15, she brought together 71 FPV members, who voted against the agreement with the holdouts. Today she invited mayors of the province of Buenos Aires - 20 of them sent militants to the demonstration out of the initiative of the President of the Buenos Aires PJ (Espinoza) - but she has decided to postpone the appointment with senators, governors, and trade unionists, where she does not have the same support. Without control of Congress and Governors, Kirchnerism will continue taking its opposition to the streets, where active minorities are strengthened and the ruling party is vulnerable.

2. The political comeback of Cristina occurs in a context in which the corruption cases are multiplied although not only for Kirchnerism. There are six cases in the federal courts against her. Three originated in allegations issued by Margarita Stolbizer: one for irregularities in her business "Los Sauces", heard by Judge Bonadío; another for irregularities in the "Hotesur" business, which is so far heard by Judge Rafecas and the other for illicit enrichment, heard by the same judge. Other two were allegations made by Elisa Carrió: conspiracy in public works led by Judge Ercolini and "the route of the K money" heard by Judge Casanello. The sixth was a denunciation of the Presidents of Cambiemos congress members blocs in 2015 (Pinedo and Negri), by which she was summoned by Judge Bonadío last week. But the cases against Kirchnerism, which reach the businessmen close to the former President such as Lázaro Báez and extend to her former officials, are accelerated. This week the former Minister of Planning and Infrastructure (De Vido) will have to testify in one of the ten cases that have been filed (the tragedy of Once), and the trial against Milagro Sala also begins. But at another level and in terms of political impact, the same Prosecutor (Delgado) investigates Macri over the Panama Papers and the President of Boca (Angelici) for trafficking of influences and this week Kirchnerism files allegations over alleged money laundering in the Panama Papers against the former Secretary of Finance, Macri (Grindetti).

3. But the social tension is the central theme these days and the measures urgently taken by the Cambiemos government, although late, try to contain the problem with its epicenter in greater Buenos Aires. Measures have been taken in relation to trade unions (increase of unemployment insurance from 400 to 3,000 pesos per month and extension of family allowances), in the province of Buenos Aires (increase to pensioners and retirees, duplication of the amount earmarked for school canteens and 122% increase for medicine allocations) and in the national Government (extension of the social fare and VAT refunds for basic food to the vulnerable sectors, among others). The question is if these measures are implemented in time. When more than half of the month has passed with a tougher social tightening (April), those who have the social tariff barely reach 10% of new recipients and the VAT refund of food is a bill that must be sent to Congress. At the same time, the management of public security appears as a vulnerable area of Government. It was confirmed by the policy of leaving the control of the streets in the hands of La Campora three times in the city of Buenos Aires and the protest of police officers in La Plata in the House of Government, when although there were fifty, evidenced the existence of discontent in this area.

4. While Kirchnerism is an active minority and does not control Peronism, a different attitude toward the Government than that of days ago, is perceived. An example of this is the Governor of Salta (Urtubey), who while Cristina was submitting her testimony in the court, together with Macri said "supporters are not needed to testify" and hours later argued that "Macri brought about the most orthodox neo-liberal orthodoxy". Peronism perceives that the deterioration of the social situation in the most popular sectors has begun to diminish the popularity of the Government and that this is the time to take some distance. Two weeks ago, Macri failed to reach an agreement with the Presidents of the bloc of Senators for the approval of his proposals for the Court. Something similar happened at his meeting with the leaders of the three Peronist unions last week -today they meet with the Episcopate Commission of Social Pastoral- which after the meeting confirmed a demonstration for April 29. Bossio's dissident Peronist bloc did not vote in favor of the Government in validating the urgency decrees and Massa, who did so, has been cautious to endorse the tightening measures. From now on, the Government of Macri faces a more difficult political scenario.

5. To conclude: 

a) Kirchnerism regained political centrality, but fails to realign Peronism under its control and will continue to have prominence although in decline, as happened under the Menem and Duhalde administrations.

b) Cristina is threatened by six cases in the federal courts and the judicial proceedings extend to her political and business entourage, as the "Panama Papers" case affect the PRO.

c) The Government has taken measures to contain the social tension which has escalated in the suburbs in April, but their execution is delayed, showing constraints in the management of public security.

d) Although not joining Cristina, Peronism begins to appear more distant from Macri, to avoid sharing the political costs of the tightening and a tougher Congress derived from it.

 
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