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Argentine Political Outlook (Nov-21-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Nov-21-19, por Rosendo Fraga

Twenty days after the start of the new government, leading the Latin American "progressivism" is the priority of the elected president. The release of Lula, the fall of Evo Morales in Bolivia and the Summit of the Puebla Group in Buenos Aires, have created a turning point in his policy, which has led him to leave in the background the two priorities that had been set after the first round victory: the relationship with the White House and the rebuilding of relations with Brazil. The Mexican President (López Obrador) maintains the traditional position of his country, of not assuming leading roles in international relations, or a leadership that cannot be sustained. For this reason, he has allowed the President-elect of Argentina to assume this position. But Fernández' risk is to be leading a "populist" space, to which only Venezuela in South America, Nicaragua in Central America and Cuba in the Caribbean will be assigned. Mexico will maintain its own position without involvement. While some Fernández' advisors think that the difficult situation that Latin America is going through will make Argentina a necessary relationship for the United States and this will make Washington's position regarding the debt more flexible, there are those who think otherwise, that Fernandez's direct criticism of Trump will harden the position of the White House regarding Argentina. 

Fernández moves forward in the creation of his government team, seeking not to affect his Vice President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who has arrived after her seventh trip to Cuba. For the Cabinet, it seems that the former president does not ask to occupy any ministries, but to prevent them from filled by people she does not trust. The chances that someone very close to Fernández (Arguello) should become Foreign Affairs Minister, another he supported in the 2007 election (Randazzo), becomes Minister of Transportation, have generated the rejection of the former President. If a leader of La Cámpora (De Pedro) becomes Minister of the Interior, it will be the choice of the President-elect, not a decision of Cristina. The influence of "pure" Kirchnerism is evident in the support for certain officials to cover key positions in areas related to information and security (AFIP, AFI and UIF) and in organizations that manage important resources (YPF, ANSES and PAMI). It is in this area where greater influence of the future Vice President will become evident. But it is in Congress, where she is operating to secure her influence. In the Senate, the PJ gathers 40 senators, against 28 of Cambiemos, with 4 independents who can negotiate. Almost half of the Peronists - who respond to the governors - refuse to merge into a single block under the leadership of a Kirchnerist. They prefer to form an "inter-block" that keeps them independent. In the Lower House, Kirchnerism wants Máximo to fill in the Presidency of the Peronist bloc, which is why the current President (Rossi) returns to the Ministry of Defense that he held under Cristina's second term. In the Alberto-Cristina meeting that took place on November 18, in which the cabinet has allegedly been resolved, Máximo also participated, who will be occupying more and more spaces that his mother will delegate to him. 

While all this is happening, Macri tries to keep his leadership in Cambiemos intact, with a view to leading the opposition since December 10. The outgoing President called for a march and rally in the Plaza de Mayo on December 7, three days before leaving the Presidency, with the intention of revitalizing his supporters and keeping them in a state of mobilization from day one. At the same time, to avoid attempts to dispute the leadership, those that have already become evident, as is usually inevitable in this type of circumstances. The attitude taken by Congress against the fall of Evo Morales in Bolivia, highlighted it. A large part of the UCR legislators and a minority of the PRO, coincided with the position of Peronism, in labelling the resignation of Morales as a "coup d'état", contradicting the position taken by the Executive. The President was forced to make his position more flexible. Macri appointed -without consultation- a leading table for the future opposition, which was not accepted by Radicalism. The Buenos Aires city Mayor (Larreta) is quickly creating his own space, and avoids clashing with Macri. His recent visit to the Pope is part of this line, as well as his decision to prevent Macri's ministers from joining his team. 

As for the "transition" itself, so far it is more declaimed than real. Fernández appointed a team of four people to lead forty technical experts and specialists. The reality is that in almost no area of government, the joint work between the two teams has been made effective. The President-elect has decided to explain the critical situation he inherits the country and is thus anticipating it with public definitions such as "the entire security policy is a lie" and his statements that "he will not have a tail wind". He has also said that he is not being consulted on the measures that the government that ends is taking daily. It brought together the Council to combat Hunger - composed of leaders and personalities from different fields - to address the problem of hunger; He anticipated the intention of giving permanent character to the Social Pact, with the creation of the Social Economic Council. He advanced the intention to increase taxes on agriculture, mining and energy. He said he will send to Congress a project to decriminalize abortion, which has already generated differences with the Church. He has indicated that on December 10, his supporters must fill the Plaza de Mayo, to neutralize the effect of the previous one that Macri summons. But there are some measures that show coincidences. The decision of the bicameral commission that limits releases was taken by mutual agreement, in the Bicameral Commission that regulates the enforcement of the new Code of Procedures. Along the same lines is the attempt for the Lower House this week to approve the gondola and rental bills. At the same time, the shift of justice is taking place and this week the first former minister of Macri, Aranguren, will testify, as the head of the Anti-Corruption Office (Alonso) has requested postponing his testimony. As for the act of transmission, Kirchnerism will seek first that the Legislative Assembly (senators and congress members combined) elects the Vice President as its President and that it takes an oath to Alberto Fernández. 

5. To conclude: 

a) Twenty days away from the presidential inauguration, for Fernandez to lead the Latam ‘progressivism' is a foreign policy definition that helps to be on good terms with the K. 

b) The president moves forward in definitions on the team composition, as Cristina has ‘veto' power for ministers and drives some politicians for key positions outside cabinet. 

c) Macri is constantly working to assume the opposition leadership from day one and neutralize the attempts for independence and competition from the heart of his own ranks. 

d) The transition is agreed in formal but not in real terms as the two parks competing in December 7 (Macri) and December 10 (Fernandez) are far from making it easier.

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