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La candidatura presidencial de Sarmiento

A lo largo del libro, se percibe como en la candidatura presidencial de Sarmiento, confluyen por un lado el proceso, por otro lado la voluntad y acción del protagonista y también las circunstancias e imponderables que siempre juegan un rol en el devenir político.  



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Argentine Political Outlook (Set-01-18) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Set-01-18, By Rosendo Fraga

1. Some 14 months to go before the presidential election, 10 before the open primaries and 8 before the definition of alliances and candidacies, the ruling coalition returns to its electoral strategy of polarizing with Cristina. As the economic crisis and social deterioration put the government at its most difficult time in Cambiemos' 33 months of government - of which two thirds have already gone by- confronting electorally with the former President, as was done successfully in 2015 and 2017, appears as the most effective strategy to avoid the flight of votes and to put the disgruntled before the "lesser evil" option. The impact of the "notebooks" case is key to this strategy. When the idea of the "legacy" had lost its validity in the third year of government, when the worst side of Kirchnerism became the center of the political and media scene, the past was again present. The success of the demonstration of 21 August evidenced this. But this strategy has a risk. If Cristina is a presidential "possibility" in the coming months, the economy will hardly improve. The government has analyzed to advance the presidential election, but it has rejected it for now. At the same time, the debate continues as to the elections in the Buenos Aires province and Buenos Aires city, the most important districts it governs. Whether the candidate will be Macri or Vidal, will be defined in May with the surveys in hand. In the short term, the electoral success of the government depends on the US Treasury extending the financial aid to Argentina given that the crisis of credibility persists and that the tense social situation can be contained. 

2. Cristina, on the other hand, also sees the ruling party strategy of "polarization" as beneficial. She relies on that the economic and social deterioration will spread the perception that "we were better off with Cristina" an idea already present in the lower income sectors, which are the most affected ones by the economic-social deterioration. It is true that today 60% claim that they would "never" vote for Cristina and this prevents her from winning in the second round. The problem is that this level of "rejection" is not a static photo that will remain so for 14 months until the election. The public opinion is changing. This percentage can be raised to 70% or lowered to 50% - it is an example - according to the circumstances. At the beginning of 2015, Cristina Kirchner argued that Mauricio Macri was the most suitable candidate for Kirchnerism, because 6 in 10 said they would never vote for him. But in the following months, the current President managed to diminish his level of rejection, while the then ruling coalition was politically worn out. Cristina will probably run for election and this responds to her character rather to politics, but she'll do it outside the PJ, not inside, seeking to be in second place to compete with Cambiemos in the second round. It is not easy for court cases to prevent her from running for election. A first instance sentence is hardly resolved in June, when the candidacies are formalized. In addition, at the Senate Peronism maintains its doctrine for now that immunity won't be removed unless there's a firm sentence. On the other hand, the Lower House does contemplate this possibility, which today threatens several leaders of La Cámpora (Larroque, De Pedro and Máximo Kirchner). 

3. The third political space is the anti-K Peronism, which has the governors as the backbone, and seeks to capture the Cambiemos disenchanted and the anti-K. Today one third of the public opinion shares this stance. But despite the creation of "Federal Peronism" in Congress, there is no clear leadership, no defined strategy, no predominant candidates. Beyond the half-dozen names that are under discussion, the models with which this space works are two: the young governor and the experienced economist. An example of the former is the Governor of San Juan, Sergio Uñac, a 42-year-old politician who has effectively annulled his predecessor, José Luis Gioja, who lacks a political "negative record" and who has a good relationship with the economic world in relation to the promotion of mining investments in this province. The other model is that of Roberto Lavagna. He starts with the economy as a central issue in the coming election - it was not so in 2013 and 2015 - and amid a difficult situation. The role of the former Minister of Economy was key to overcome the 2001-2002 crisis. His candidacy could drag with it a sector of radicalism, which already voted for him in 2007. Meanwhile, the governors of the PJ are planning to advance the provincial elections, when they negotiate the "tightening" with the national government. 

4. But the fourth alternative is the emergence of "anti-politics" as an option, even if it is not a space today. It is a phenomenon that has become widespread in the Western world and takes place when public opinion thinks "they are all equal" in relation to the political leaders of all parties. This is the case of Trump in the USA, Macron in France or the coalition that today governs Italy in the developed world. It is the case of Jail Bolsonaro in Brazil. This situation is emerging today in the opinion polls in Argentina, where the impact could be on traditional politics, which has taken place in the main country of South America. It could happen that the combination of the "Notebooks" case with the "Odebrecht" case that is being investigated in parallel, might lead to a situation that affects both the ruling party and the opposition, both in the business and political sectors in a context of strong social and economic deterioration. A new political space may emerge -the question is who will rise to capitalize it. TV showman Marcelo Tinelli moves in this direction, although it will not be easy for him to occupy it. However, odd events such as those involvng comedian Alfredo Casero and his widespread phrase "we want flan" from the official ranks, evidences the underlying "anti-politics" feeling even in the ruling party flanks. 

5. To conclude: 

a)     Some 14 months to go before the presidential elections, the ruling party polarizes with Cristina again as a strategy, but in an economic-social situation that raises hard questions. 

b)    The former president for her part will run for election, relying on the perception that "we were better off with Cristina", although her level of rejection today would stop her from winning a runoff. 

c)     Anti-K Peronism is the third way built around the PJ governors. It is a middle stance between Mauricio Macri and Cristina Kirchner, but lacks political leadership and a salient candidate. 

d)    The "anti-political" feeling which spread out in the western world may take roots if the idea that "they are all the same" becomes widespread; however, no one has yet capitalized on it.

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