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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 (Sep-20-18) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Set-20-18, by Rosendo Fraga

1. Macri attempted to relaunch his political leadership trying to take advantage of the relative calm in the stock markets between Sept. 5 and 12. As his spokesperson and officials already had done, he used the term "storm pilot", which was first introduced into the government circle by the Interior Minister Minister Rogelio Frigerio, perhaps the only member of the cabinet with historical background. Although Macri himself doesn't know this, the term was coined with reference to Carlos Pellegrini, because of his ability to handle and solve the 1890 economic crisis. At the same time, the President stated he had successfully avoided "a crisis like that of 2001" and that without Cambiemos behind the wheel "everything would have been worse". Additionally, he had a personal but public moment when he said, "If I go crazy, I could hurt you very much", which led to many interpretations. He received the support of many business entities and he met with recipients of the Universal Child Allowance. Last weekend, his presence next to the Buenos Aires Governor (Vidal) in the usual bell ringing campaign in the metropolitan area, completed the actions to relaunch his leadership. In parallel, the Chief of Cabinet (Peña) was looking for reconstituting his leadership within the government, which had been affected by the recent events. September 11th gathered together all of the ambassadors accredited before the Argentinean government, in order to explain the efforts with the IMF agreement and the economic situation, without the presence of the Finance Minister (Dujovne) and reorganizes the team, having the new Chief of Cabinet (Ibarra) and one of his former secretaries (Lopetegui) among his main group. But for the time being he hasn't managed to come back as the only spokesman of the government. The G20 Trade Ministers' meeting held in Mar del Plata and the Think Tanks meeting in Buenos Aires are both used for the presidential strategy. 

2. But between Sept 13 and 14, the return of the economic volatility once more affected the political situation of the government. Both the dollar over 40 pesos and the deferred payment of the first installment of the IMF agreement due on Monday 17, complicated the government's strategy to show that the scenario was stabilizing. This is because the economic volatility generates political susceptibility and this is emphasized more each time. Although the elections will be in 13 months' time and the perception -actually the desire- of the ruling party is that the economy would be neutral for the election, the reality is that this represents the biggest electoral threat for Cambiemos. Inflation escalates and the year is going to end with the highest figures since the beginning of currency board, more than a quarter of a century ago. The recession intensifies in parallel and the social effects of the economic deterioration become more visible each day. Daily Clarín, close to the government, reported that flour increased 131% so far this year, dried pasta 44%, vegetable oil 45%, mate 36% and juices from 35% to 39%. Seeing that the fixed- prices plan expansion to 50 more products is not enough to tame inflation, the government considers to implement an agreement between "prices and salaries". There is also an increase in the food lots destined for soup kitchens, which also present "logistic" problems as sometimes they don't get to those who need it.  

3. The social protest escalates and spreads faster than the measures with which the government seeks to control it. The last salary agreements begin to close around or even above inflation. The maritime union (Somu) with the lowest level (sailors) got a 117%; state employees from the City of Buenos Aires added a 13% on top of the 25% they already had, surpassing the national public administration while all the provinces agreed on re examining the percentage in December; the aeronautic workers -a union aligned with Moyano- agreed on a 43%. Most of the workers who are still in negotiation demand figures around 40%. The general strike preparations for Sept. 25 are moving on with the convergence of the worker's union (CGT) "open to dialogue" faction -whose leaders are becoming more critical towards the government- and the "tough ones" (Moyano and the two CTAs), who added half a day more (36 hrs.) to the strike and demonstration, are meeting in the "Union Movement for the National Model" plenary session on Thursday 21 at Ferro stadium. The social movements take to the streets more each day. Last week they mobilized 100.000 people approximately, setting up community kitchens in different points of the country, blocking off the 9 de Julio Avenue for 6 hours and walking towards the Government House. This week they will protest again against the increase of bills, demanding a cut in prices to the level of the beginning of the year, getting the support from the middle class in this demand. The middle class mobilized supporting the education claim, following last week's education national strike, which in both the City and Province of Buenos Aires extended for 48 hours. Teachers protested against the kidnapping and torture of a teacher from the Province of Buenos Aires and some Universities from UBA are still "occupied" by left parties. 

4. On a political scale, the main issue was and still is the negotiation with the governors concerning the annual budget. The bill gets to the Lower House on Monday 17 and will be discussed in committee on Thursday 20. On Tuesday 11 Macri had his "picture" with 20 of the 24 governors, just to show that he has their support, but they wittily avoided signing any document. In this way, the bill reaches the Congress without a steady agreement and ongoing negotiations. The governors are better negotiators than the Administration and given this situation, it is most likely to be passed in November, but with some reservations from the Executive branch regarding tax and price tightening measures, which will work out well for the provinces. The PJ is divided but this issue is bridging the gap. It is clear that an anti K Peronism is shaping up, which will try to gather Urtubey, Uñac, Massa and Pichetto among others, in one event. The Kirchnerism is on the defensive, as the allegations against Cristina pile up. Judge Bonadío, who will ask for her impeachment will accuse her again. But for the time being there is nothing that would lead to think that she would be arrested or unable to run for office because in the Senate, all the blocks from the Justicialist party believe that someone can only be impeached only if a final sentence is passed. Regarding the appointment of the new President of the Supreme Court (Rosenkratz), this was considered as a positive fact both by Macri before his cabinet and publicly by Carrió. But it is important to point out that the members of the Supreme Court don't change and, as a consequence, the ruling party will not have absolute majority. In the past, he had to negotiate with the President (Lorenzetti), but now the new President would have to do so with his peers in the name of the Executive branch. 

5. To conclude: 

a) Macri tried to use the brief truce with the markets to relaunch his leadership using the slogan that claims the country needs a "storm pilot" and that he would be it. 

b) But the volatility that reemerged on the last two days of the last week along with the deferred payment of the IMF agreement due on Sept. 17 complicated the situation on the economic side. 

c) In parallel, the social situation gets worse every day with the increase in inflation and food prices, stepping up union, social movements and middle class protests. 

d) Until now, the Administration only has a "picture" of the governors, while the negotiation for the annual budget which might be approved in November, still goes on. 

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