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Argentine Political Outlook (Jun-18-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jun-18-19, by Rosendo Fraga
 

1. Argentine politics shows the remarkable validity of Peronism that dominates from the center-left to center-right. Since the emergence of Peronism 75 years ago, several times it has been considered dead and has always resurfaced, confirming that it is the dominant force in Argentine politics. A few months ago, the Chief of Staff (Peña) said, "We have shown that we can govern without Peronism". Now, the election of Miguel Ángel Pichetto as Mauricio Macri's running mate was welcomed favorably by the markets, considering that it brought "governance" to the Cambiemos administration. But the election of Pichetto as a candidate for Vice President, also aimed at capturing the anti-K Peronist vote -specifically targeted at Menem and Duhalde's supporters- such as those of Massa who do not support him in the Fernández-Fernández ticket. But the next day, the Lavagna-Urtubey ticket was presented, aimed to recreate the possibilities of the "third space" and also capture the anti-K peronist vote. If this ticket presents candidates in the province of Buenos Aires, this favors Vidal, because it can divide the Buenos Aires province Peronist vote in a district where there is no second round. Thus, five of the six members of the first three presidential tickets, according to the voting preference, are Peronist. The significance of the "Peronist political culture" revival was given by the same PRO, when on Friday, June 14, leaders of Peronist origin of this party welcomed Pichetto with a luncheon, where they sang the Peronist march. The Minister of the Interior, the Deputy Chief of Government of Buenos Aires, the Minister of Security of the province of Buenos Aires, the Speaker of the Lower House, the President of the national congress bloc, the Vice President of Banco Ciudad, were present among others. 

2. While the government maintains that it has recovered in the polls again, the results of the provincial elections show the opposite, although they can not be extrapolated to the national level. In Santa Fe, compared to the election of Governor of 2015, Cambiemos lost 12 points and also the mayoralty of the provincial capital, which Radicalism - which is part of the national government - governed for decades. The sum of votes of the parties that support the Fernández-Fernández and Lavagna-Urtubey tickets (the Socialists up to now support it) accounted for almost 80% of the votes. But in Santa Fe, the growing importance of the vote to the right of Macri is confirmed again. An anti-abortion party, led by a TV presenter and former model (Ms Granata) was third for provincial legislators, displacing Cambiemos to the fourth place and gaining 6 provincial legislators, against only 2 from the national government. In San Luis, four years ago, Peronism won with 56% of the votes and now adds 63%, although divided by the confrontation between the Rodríguez Sáa brothers. In Formosa, Governor Insfrán -who supports the Fernández-Fernández ticket- won for the fourth time in a row, with more than 70%. In Tierra del Fuego, the first candidate (Mayor of Rio Grande, Mr Melella) and the second candidate (Governor Bertone), who support the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket on a national level, added more than 90% of the votes and Cambiemos fell from 30 to 4% of the votes. Although in 12 of the 14 governor elections already held, the provincial government won, the problem of Cambiemos is that it is losing several provincial capitals that it controlled, such as Córdoba, Santa Fe, Paraná and Santa Rosa. 

3. Macri's aspiration that Pichetto adds governors of Peronism to his ticket has little chance of materializing. June 22 is the deadline to present the slates and this implies the national definition of parties and governors. There are still eight governor elections to be held: Santa Cruz, the election will be held along with the national open primaries on August 11; Mendoza and Chaco will hold the election on September 19; Buenos Aires, City of Buenos Aires and Catamarca will do it on October 27, the same date of the presidential election and Salta, November 10. Only La Rioja has not yet defined the date. Pichetto's first task will be to obtain the support of the governors of Neuquén and Río Negro, both from provincial parties. But they would be inclined to go with "short slate", that is to say, proposing candidates for national legislators only, without a presidential ticket. On the total of the Peronist governors, only two could go with this alternative (Córdoba and Misiones) and another could support the Lavagna-Urtubey ticket. The rest would support Fernández-Fernández. In other words, the candidate for Vice President could not drag any governor, although those who run with "short slate" let their voters free, favoring the national government. But the Administration will have the support of the five districts where it governs: Buenos Aires, City of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Corrientes and Jujuy, since it is foreseeable that it will retain them, although there are doubts about what can happen in the province of Buenos Aires. Although they are only 5 out of 24 districts, they represent more than half of the national electoral roll. 

4. This week will define how many senators continue to respond to Pichetto, -the area where the senator created the "Federal Bloc" - with which Cambiemos agreed on the key laws. This bloc has 22 senators, on a universe of 41 of Peronist origin, including its allies. Of the 19 that do not belong to the Bloc led by Pichetto, 9 belong to the K bloc. On Thursday last week, 13 of the 22 that responded to Pichetto got together, stating their decision to work with the other sectors of Peronism in the Upper House. The other 9 did not attend, but the majority would adopt the same position. They raised the possibility of unifying the different blocs of Peronist senators through an "interbloc". This is a direct consequence of the position taken by the Peronist governors at the national level. Pichetto has thus lost the power structure he had set up in the Senate and now a new bloc -which may be the largest one- to support the Fernández-Fernández ticket can emerge. Peronist senators claim that the Cambiemos candidate for Vice President resigns from his position in the Magistrates Council on behalf of the opposition, something that he rejects. Thus, Macri's election of the Peronist governor of Rio Negro as a candidate for Vice President does not mean adding governors or senators in support of the Cambiemos ticket, although it has allowed the government to resume the political initiative, after a month in which Cristina Kirchner had it. For her part, she presents her book in Rosario on June 20 -the Flag Day- while Alberto Fernández and Sergio Massa will begin to carry out proselytizing acts together. 

5. To conclude: 

a) The fact that 5 out of 6 members of the three main presidential tickets are of peronist origin evidences the validity such political expression still has as a dominant party of Argentine politics. 

b) While the national ruling coalition has resumed the political initiative, the provincial elections show more setbacks than advances in Cambiemos, compared to 2015. 

c) Pichetto does not seem likely to add any PJ governors in support of the ticket and might only succeed in getting some not support any ticket, though those will be a minority. 

d) His bloc of senators has been dismantled and he does not drag with him any legislators from the Upper House, despite which the market welcomed his VP nomination.

 
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