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Argentine Political Outlook (May-29-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
May-29-19, by Rosendo Fraga
 

1. In two weeks, Cristina Kirchner took the political lead, put her slate (Fernández-Fernández) leading the polls and puzzled and weakened her opponents. On May 9, she presented her book "Sinceramente" at the Book Fair. On the 14th, she was in the premises of the national PJ, with governors, national legislators and mayors of the suburbs. On the 18th, she launched her Fernández-Fernández ticket and on May 25, she held her first rally in Greater Buenos Aires, in Merlo. At the same time, she undermined the significance of events such as the triumph of Schiaretti in Córdoba, the announcement of the government's agreement, the conflict between the Executive and the Court over her trial, the alternatives given by Cambiemos and the Federal PJ and her presence in the first hearing. The polls published in recent days -after the announcement of the ticket-give her an edge of around 10 points over Macri. Macri has fallen at the same time. In spite of the strong contradiction that implies taking Alberto Fernandez as candidate for President -during a decade he questioned to Cristina deeply and his statements in that regard have gone viral in the social media- nobody in Kirchnerism has criticized her decision. The two members of the PJ-K formula agree to send signs of moderation, except on the issue of justice. Thus, in view of a new filing of the bill to legalize abortion, Alberto Fernández has said he does not consider it urgent to discuss it. 

2. Cambiemos is aware that it will be difficult to win with Macri, but the President remains determined not to step aside to allow the presidential candidacy of Vidal. The cost of economic policy rests solely with the President. It does not reach governors or mayors, not even the finance minister (Dujovne) who has a low profile. When pressure steps up not only from the UCR and business sectors, but also within the PRO, the Governor of Buenos Aires rejected the President's proposal to accompany her as a candidate for Vice President. The President hinted that he was willing to negotiate only on his candidate for Vice President, giving a signal to Radicalism, whose convention meets at the beginning of this week. Alternatives such as opening the primaries to the candidacy of Vidal, competing with those of Lousteau and Urtubey, generating an expansion of the political coalition and reactivating the enthusiasm of the ruling party were ruled out by the Administration. During last week, Macri met with Schiaretti to leave Lavagna outside the Federal PJ - he is the candidate that captures the disenchanted votes of Cambiemos- but two days later he realized that the dismantling of the "third space" today favors Cristina, since Peronism might get together behind her candidacy. Meanwhile, the Judiciary is rapidly taking distance from the government: the Federal court of Mar del Plata ratified the "rebellion" of Prosecutor Stornelli, taking a step towards a possible nullity of the "Notebooks" case; the 60 new judges that the ruling party had agreed to appoint with the Federal PJ, now will not have the agreement of the Senate and in the two cases that affect the presidential family (agreement with the Post and investment in wind farms) procedural measures were taken contrary to their intentions. But at the same time, the investigation into the Kirchnerist funds deposited in the Sheychelles Islands was reopened in the US. 

3. In this context, the situation of the Federal PJ is critical and runs the risk of disappearing, unless there is an immediate reaction. On June 12, the deadline to submit alliances expires. But that day the presidential tickets must be definite, because no party or governor will join one without knowing what ticket will lead. Only two weeks remain for it to create a slate. This sector can survive the departure of Lavagna or Massa, but not to both leaving the space and this can happen today. On Thursday, the 30th meets the Frente Renovador led by Massa. He is negotiating with Cristina at the same time to support her ticket. Alberto Fernandez did not add votes, but Massa does have his own number of votes to contribute, which is around 7 points. Added to the 35 that the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket has, they surpass 40 and could win in the first round if they have more than 10 points of lead over the second. At the same time, he negotiates with Vidal's team, to divide Buenos Aires Peronism again as it did in 2015 and 2017, without which Cambiemos would not have been able to win the province of Buenos Aires, which is won by a simple majority, that is, by a vote. For his part, Lavagna will decide if he goes ahead with his candidacy this week and both Urtubey and Pichetto receive PRO proposals, but they are not attractive in political terms. On Sunday, June 2, governor elections are held in San Juan and Misiones, which will be won by the PJ - it will have 10 local victories between open primaries and provincial elections- and the ruling party could win that of provincial legislators in Corrientes -it won't vote for Governor this year- one of the five provinces that it governs. 

4. This week will witness the radical convention, a general strike, measures in the lawsuits against Cristina and the first steps of the Church's call. By majority, the convention will resolve to stay in Cambiemos, but will present claims to have more participation in candidacies and expand the coalition, without expelling leaders who support another electoral alternative, such as Lavagna if it is maintained. The strike will be important as the hard unions and pro-dialogue sector converge with those of transport and social movements. Judge Bonadío would send the second case against Cristina to trial -that of the historical documents that were in her possession. It is probably the one with the least support of the eleven and the one that allows her to argue that she is target of "persecution". The initiative of the Church promoting a "Pact" of all sectors, overlaps the call of Macri to an agreement and that of Cristina to a new social contract. It is not easy for it to prosper, but it can create an instance that contributes to lowering aggressiveness and laying the basis for future governance, something that political leaders protagonists do not seem capable of achieving. 

5. To conclude: 

a)  In two weeks, Cristina managed to take the political initiative, puzzled and weakened her woes and pushed her electoral ticket ten points ahead of Macri's candidacy. 

b)  In spite of this, the president is determined to maintaining his candidacy and stopping Vidal's, opening up the chances of negotiating his candidate for VP to curtail pressures from his own coalition. 

c)  The third space based on the Federal PJ includes anti-K progressive sectors is in crisis but could survive Lavagna's or Massa's exit but not both. 

d) The UCR Convention will intensify pressures on Macri, the general strike will be compelling and will show a unified unionism as the Church will take its first steps towards the Pact.

 
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