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Argentine Political Outlook (Dic-05-20) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Dic-05-20, by Rosendo Fraga

1. The incidents that took place during Maradona's wake complicated its political use by the ruling party and showed the failure of securing a safe environment. The intention of the Government to transform Maradona's funeral into a political event that favored it was obvious (possibly any government would have tried something similar). The President said "we should have anticipated the presence of hooligans" and he himself assumed the seriousness of the error of not having noticed the obvious. The reaction of the Government to blame the Buenos Aires city Government and its police for the violence in the streets did nothing more than complicate the effect of the events in the public opinion. The security of the Government House is in charge of the Head of the Military House who reports to the Secretary General of the Presidency. The presence of hooligans in the courtyard of the Government House created an out-of-control situation that lasted approximately 20 minutes. The President, with a loudspeaker, tried to calm people from the first floor, but failed. The idea was to get him out, but finally this plan did not materialize. These episodes took place when the Vice President entered Maradona's wake and after a few minutes, when the disturbance began, she moved to the Interior Minister's office. She is credited with having said, "They don't even know how to organize a wake." It had been almost 3 months since the President and Vice President met, and this time there was no dialogue between them. 

2. The central conflict in Argentine politics continues to be the relationship between the president and the vice president, and their influence on the direction of the Government and the measures that are adopted, with Congress as the area where the struggle unfolds. On December 1, the extraordinary sessions begin and they will last all month. In this period, only the bills sent by the Executive will be discussed. This will reveal the degree of cooperation and influence between the President and the Vice President. The bill that reduces from 48 to 37 the senators required to appoint the Attorney General of the Nation was approved in the Senate by 42 to 27. The bloc of the Frente de Todos led by the Vice President once again showed itself monolithically united and without any absentee, with 6 more senators than necessary to obtain the majority - the vice president breaks the tie - and 6 out of two thirds. But for this bill to become law before the end of the year, it must be included by the Executive Branch on the agenda of extraordinary events. The bill also limits the freedom of action of prosecutors and submits them to a court in which representatives of the Executive and Legislative branches have a majority. Other bills such as debt sustainability or changing the adjustment formula for retirees are not fully part of the disputes between the Administration and the vice presidency, and will probably be approved. The abortion bill will be debated this week in the Lower House and the next one at the Senate. Polls and demonstrations state that today there are a majority who are opposed at the national level, but in the Lower House, approval is likely. The president of the House, Sergio Massa, who opposes abortion, under the influence of Kirchnerism, appointed four pro-abortion legislators in commissions to handle the previous debates with specialists, although this seems a contradiction. In the Senate, the legislative calculations estimate that there are 3 left for the final approval and that the action of the vice president will be decisive, without her having advanced her position so far. The final approval of the bill will deteriorate the relationship of President Alberto Fernández with Pope Francis, who until now, in general terms, had supported the most important decisions of the President. The triumph of Peronism in the election of Río Cuarto showed the electoral importance of unity for Peronism, since Schiaretti appeared allied with the K. 

3. The conflict between the ruling party and the opposition deepens, ruling out the possibility that the President will seek support from it to contain Kirchnerism. The City of Buenos Aires would be the only district that is not going to join the fiscal pact that the Government seeks to implement. The reason is that in order to sign it, the districts have to renounce the legal actions they have brought against the Government, and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta is not willing to drop the application that he has filed in Court to stop the cut on the police allocations from the national government. Regarding the change of majority to appoint the attorney, the president abandoned his resistance and joined the bill promoted by the Vice President. In this context, the attitude of Juntos por el Cambio to support the president's candidate, Judge Daniel Rafecas, lost sustenance, and today Cristina is likely to promote her own candidate. The conflict over the disturbance at Maradona's wake led the national government somewhat hastily to accuse the Buenos Aires police of repressing without reason. The argument of this criticism is based on confusing fans with hooligans: according to the Administration, the Buenos Aires police force unreasonably repressed fans, when in reality they faced hooligans. At the judicial level, the allegation of "Macri-driven espionage" are reactivated, affecting both Macri and Carrió. In this context, the photos between March and June that showed Fernández and Larreta working together in the face of the pandemic seem distant. Meanwhile, this week there will be a meeting of the national leadership of Juntos por el Cambio in which both Mauricio Macri and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta would participate, giving a sign of unity at times that seem to have broken the bridges between the Administration and the Headquarters of Buenos Aires city Government. 

4. In the last 15 days, the Government shows an improvement in the absolute number of deaths and infections due to the pandemic, but the international context remains in a bad situation. Despite this reduction, it is the sixth country in the world in deaths per 100,000, behind Belgium, Peru, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The number of absolute cases per country - not according to its population - is in ninth place. But the Government focuses on the first quarter of the year the start of a large vaccination campaign that allows it to reverse the lost approval that it had between June and October and that stopped in November, although the disturbances at Maradona's wake may have altered this situation. The Chief of Staff used the word "epic" when referring to the mass vaccination operation that will be launched as of January. It would start with a large procurement of Sputnik vaccines from Russia, which would also be manufactured by India, while negotiations with other laboratories continue. The idea is to generate an impactful socio-political event, such as the commemoration of the Bicentennial in 2010, which became the starting point for the Government's political recovery after Kirchner's death. The idea is that the economic recovery that will take place in 2021, even if it is modest, will support this idea of the change in the political and economic horizon. However, nothing is certain yet. Until now, no country in the world has launched massive vaccination campaigns, because the various vaccines under study have not completed their verification processes. This move can have complications derived from delays in the possibility of implementing a mass vaccination. 

5. To conclude: 

a.   The violent disturbances that took place in the Government House and the city downtown on occasion of Maradona's wake prevented the government from using the event for political purposes. 

b.  The Congress is the stage for the fight between Alberto and Cristina and as of Dec 1, when the Executive branch will have the power to choose which bill to submit to parliament, it will evidence the cooperation between them. 

c.   The relation between the ruling coalition and the opposition deteriorates as the influence of Kirchnerism affects it and Juntos por el Cambio attempts a gesture of unity by gathering its national leadership via virtual modality. 

d.   A drop in the number of infected and dead people is reported but the country ranks 6 in terms of deaths every 100,000 inhabitants while the mass vaccination campaign is prepared and labelled as "epic".

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