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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 (Dic-11-18) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Dic-11-18, by Rosendo Fraga

1. President Macri completes three years of government amid a context that would have been difficult to imagine when he took office in December 2015. The last quarter of 2018 shows a fall of the economy between 5 and 6%, marking the lowest growth since he took over. The polls, eleven months after the presidential elections, show that if the election was today, they would compete in the second round with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. It did not seem likely three years ago that she would have an electoral recovery of this size. Part of the President's voters and particularly the lower-middle-class voters, are filled with disappointment. The economy that was led by Alfonso Prat Gay three years ago, is today closely monitored by an IMF official. But the government points to two milestones. Unprecedented progress was made in the investigation into corruption cases under the Kirchner administration, and a significant success in foreign policy was achieved, underlined by the recent G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. Now, the President has less than a year left to ensure that his term does not end with increased inflation, poverty, unemployment and debt compared to the time when he took office. It is not an easy challenge, but it will depend not only on the historical context but also on the electoral outcome of next year. At the same time, 35 years since democracy was restored, with a critical society due to its low social economic results, as is happening in all the West. 

2. The success of the G20 showed its limitations and the ruling party hastened its strategy of "bolsonizing" the 2019 campaign axis. The arrest of an executive with tech company Huawei in Canada and the negative performance of the global markets during the days following the G20 Summit, showed that the truce brokered between Trump and Xi in Buenos Aires was not only precarious but also fragile. Following this, Argentina's country risk was above 700 points throughout the week, higher than the one registered in the days leading up to the international event. In the domestic political scene, already on the night of Tuesday, December 4, the news was no longer the G20 but it was displaced by the debate on the new protocol for the use of firearms by the federal security forces, announced by the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich and backed by President Macri. Since September, when it became clear that Jair Bolsonaro could win Brazil's presidential election, government strategists began to work on making public security the backbone of the 2019 campaign. But it was the success of the Summit's organization to have succeeded in avoiding not only terrorist acts but also violent protests, which hastened the new campaign axis, which will have a central milestone on March 1, when the President in the opening of ordinary sessions of Congress, presents the new Criminal Code bill, whose protocol indicates that police officers will be exempted from compelling suspects to stop in cases when they consider that the lives of other people are jeopardized. The government is excited, because in the surveys, 6 in 10 claim to support this type of policies. Less than 10 months ago, Macri opened the regular secessions by promoting the debate on abortion and opening up to the progressive sectors. Now it is headed to do so by assuming positions identified with right-wing populism. 

3. The political parties are looking to keep their electoral campaigns on track before yearend. Cambiemos summons 400 women leaders at the beginning of the week in Costa Salguero, to ratify the campaign axis that has been chosen: public security. They'll explain that the term "heavy hand" should be avoided, using "fair hand" instead. But the Minister of Security will be responsible for explaining the scope of the new protocol for the use of firearms by the Federal Security Forces -which most provinces, including the most important ones governed by the ruling coalition, resist adhering, as well Carrió- the central discourse based on the idea of leaving the economy in second place, given the negative situation for the government. For its part, Alternativa Argentina, the most relevant expression of the anti-K PJ, prepares its launching on December 19 in exactly the same place, Costa Salguero, where the G20 Summit took place. The meeting will allow to measure how many governors are willing to accompany this project. The well-known meeting of the Governor of San Juan (Uñac) with Roberto Lavagna is a parallel action, but that can be convergent. For its part, Kirchnerism will maintain its low profile in the coming weeks, which allowed the former president not to appear confronted against the G20 summit. The fact that no violent protests have taken place favors her strategy that today is aimed at reducing her level of rejection. Meanwhile, her son, Máximo, "walks" the province of Buenos Aires, measuring his electoral chances for Governor or at least renewing his congress seat. 

4. Meanwhile, the ruling party looks carefully at the social situation, aiming for the end of the year to go by without violence. The Social Welfare Minister (Stanley) has said that there will be no violence at the end of the year. This is the opposite to what was said by the Minister of Security until October, who announced a destabilization plan, which included the left, social movements, Moyano and Kirchnerists. Churches, trade unions and social movements work to ensure that there is none, as they did in the march against the G20. But this does not stop the tension. At the beginning of this week, "moderate" social movements will march towards the Housing Secretariat claiming for subsidies for their cooperatives. These kinds of protests will continue in the following days. The Social Observatory of the UCA would make public before the end of the year, its poverty measurement corresponding to the third quarter, which would reach 33%, that is 4.7 more than a year ago. In the next INDEC surveys, it would reach 35%. The layoffs are increasing especially in the industrial sector and the purchasing power of salaries will close with a drop of 15%. At the same time, a bonus of 3,000 pesos will be paid to the recipients of the social plans and the governor of the Province of Buenos Aires (Vidal) will pay the 7,000 pesos' bonus for the state workers and the thirteen-month bonus this week on December 14, in order to cool off tensions. 

5. To conclude: 

a)  Macri completes 3 years in office with the economy in recession and controlled by the IMF, as Cristina appears as the most relevant electoral adversary for 2019. 

b) The aftermath of the G20 Summit showed limitations, and the ruling coalition hastened the "bolsonarization" of his campaign axis. 

c) Cambiemos will put it in place this week after the meeting in Costa Salguero; the anti-K PJ prepares its launching for Dec 19, and Kirchnerism is focused on reducing its rejection level. 

d) Poverty, layoffs and drop in the salary show growing social tension, but both government as well as the main political and social players converge to contain violence.

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