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Argentine Political Outlook (Jun-24-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jun-24-19, por Rosendo Fraga
 

1. The closing of slates does not show surprises regarding what was expected two weeks ago, but regarding what was thought was going to happen five weeks ago. On May 18, it was not possible for Cristina Kirchner to cause surprises by nominating herself as candidate for Vice President and choosing Alberto Fernández as President. Nor did it seem likely that Macri chose a Peronist from Federal Alternative like Miguel Pichetto, as his running mate. But two weeks ago both events had taken place. Then, the two poles of Argentine politics seemed to converge towards the center: both Fernandez and Pichetto entailed shifts towards the moderation of both Cristina and Macri, who supposedly sought to "depolarize" the election and, in both cases, reduce the uncertainty in the power factors, pressure groups and interest groups. The former president trying to show ideological moderation and the president, trying to show governance is maintained. But the closing of slates evidenced that these interpretations were "wishful thinking" and not realities. The moves were symmetrical. In Juntos por el Cambio (Macri), when it came to defining the candidacies, the "pure Pro" trio (Peña, Larreta and Vidal) was imposed, displacing the "pro-Peronism". In Frente de Todos (Cristina), the Cámpora and its allies imposed their candidates over the other members of the coalition (traditional Peronism, trade unions and Alberto Fernández himself). 

2. Less than fifty days are still to go before the open primaries and both Cristina and Macri again agree on polarizing the election. It is the same time as the time elapsed between the presentation of Cristina's book at the Book Fair and the closing of slates. This implies that many things can happen and change until August 11. The open primaries -no a presidential ticket will have competition in its own space - will only show a preferential voting, because they will not really decide anything. The voter can avoid the option vote. The Lavagna-Urtubey ticket has ended up being a purely Peronist expression, leaving the coalition project with "progressive" sectors dismantled. It will not be easy to avoid polarization, unless economic tension returns, a situation that allows the former Minister of Economy to regain prominence. Although late, the ruling party recognized the risk involved in having the vote to the right for the first time. The Gómez Centurión-Hotton ticket (identified with anti-abortion positions) and Espert-Rosales (orthodox liberals) grew in the days leading up to the closing of slates. The legal challenges posed to the latter and the inclusion of some "blue hanky" politicians in the slates of Juntos por el Cambio, may not be enough to avoid the exodus of Macri's votes in this direction. As for the two left-wing tickets, they seem to have fewer chances of subtracting votes from the Fernández-Fernández ticket. 

3. Perhaps the most relevant definition of the closing of slates is that adopted by the governors regarding the presidential ticket they support. Out of the 24 - including the 14 already elected - the five pro-government governors (Buenos Aires, City of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Corrientes and Jujuy) go with Macri-Pichetto. None of the other 19 has joined this ticket. The five that go with "short ballot" - that is, without any candidate for president, which implies neutrality - are two provincial parties (Neuquén and Río Negro) and three justicialists (Córdoba, Misiones and Chubut). One only goes with Lavagna-Urtubey (Salta) and the remaining 13 side with Fernández-Fernández for the presidential election. That is to say that the appointment of Pichetto as running mate of the President prevented getting the support from any of the 19 governors who are not from Juntos por el Cambio. The fact that only one has joined the Lavagna-Urtubey ticket evidences the dismantling of the "third space". Up to now, 14 of the 24 districts -with 37.3% of the national list of registered voters- have held provincial elections. The votes obtained by the forces that support Fernández-Fernández add up to 43.5%; those that respond to Macri-Pichetto, 27.5%; some 8.3% voted or the Lavagna-Urtubey ticket and expressions that have not supported any of the three, account for the remaining 20.6%. 

4. But the closing of slates begins to anticipate the upcoming politics, as well as the wounds created by unfulfilled aspirations. At the beginning of this week, the bloc of national senators of Alternativa Federal gets together although in fact it is dismantled. Of its 22 members, almost all are to put together an "inter-bloc" with the remaining Peronists or seek reunification. The position taken by the governors in the face of the presidential election anticipated the end of this bloc. Pichetto tries to create his own with a senator from the Neuquén Popular Movement (Crexell) who, like him, finishes her term at the end of the year and three others who finish it in 2021 (Menem, Espínola and Reutemann). Cristina successfully managed to include her candidates on the slates for national senators in seven of the eight districts that renew representatives in the Upper House. (The exception has been Entre Ríos). In the Senate it is evident that Kirchnerism has been the winner with the polarization: it had only 9 and now it is the dominant force of a bloc that can have between 30 and 40. Something similar happens in the Lower House. The bloc of Federal Peronism had 36 national congress members and there are twenty that will leave it this week. In political terms, Kirchnerism has won more than Cambiemos with the dismantling of the third space. On May 14, Cristina was photographed at the headquarters of the national PJ and achieved the presence of only 4 governors of small provinces. Five weeks later, 13 joined her ticket in the closing of slates. 

5. To conclude: 

a) The closing of slates did not cause any surprises compared to two weeks ago, but five weeks ago, the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket was unthinkable and Pichetto was not Macri's running mate either. 

b) Less than 50 days are still to go before the open primaries but the closing of slates confirms that Cristina and Macri agree again on polarizing the election. 

c) The most relevant definition is the position taken by several governors in relation to the ticket they support, as 13 chose to side with Fernandez-Fernandez. 

d) The official announcement of candidacies already causes political consequences and regroupings of peronism in Congress, may be most relevant one.

 
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