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Inicio arrow Análisis arrow Argentine Political Outlook (Mar-22-21)

Argentine Political Outlook (Mar-22-21) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Mar-22-21, by Rosendo Fraga

1. On March 20, one year after the quarantine was established in Argentina, the government's situation has deteriorated sharply. A survey by the University of San Andrés released this month states that a year ago the approval of the Government was 67% and now it is 28%. Regarding disapproval, ten months ago, it was 28%, but at the beginning of March, it already reached 69%. Regarding the situation in the country, 72% consider that it worsened compared to March last year and 54% think that it will continue to worsen during the current year. While 44% of Alberto Fernández's voters think that inflation is the main problem affecting the country today, 55% of those who voted for Macri consider the problem is corruption. Regarding the evolution of the positive image, during May - its best moment - the image of the president was 70% and now it has dropped to 31%, while that of Vice President Cristina Kirchner, which was 28%, has dropped down to 20%. In other words, the positive image of the president fell 39 points in 10 months and Cristina's did so only 8. The deteriorated Government approval is not only a consequence of the pandemic, the fall of the economy plus inflation -the second social demand after insecurity- have contributed to it, but also the demonstration against the vice president's growing influence on power. 

2. After more than a week of being undefined regarding the replacement of Marcela Losardo as Minister of Justice, the appointment of Martín Soria was a clear political victory for Cristina. The new official is clearly identified with her and her statements confirmed this. He spoke out against the so-called "lawfare" policy, said that he was going to promote the approval in the Lower House of the bills for judicial reform and the amendment of the appointment of the Attorney General promoted by Kirchnerism and stated that he would meet with the Court to begin to resolve pending issues. This appointment, after the President's speech on March 1 and the Vice President's statement before the court on March 4, confirms the total alignment within the Executive of the line of confrontation against the Judiciary and in particular with the Supreme Court. The Highest Court reacted intelligently, announcing on Friday 19 the ruling in favor of Cristina in the case against Google, in which she questions the link between her name in the search engine and the word "thief." The decision was unanimously by the five members of the court and this confirms that they are acting in a political community. 

3. In political terms, the polarization between Cristina and Macri that dominated the national scene in 2018 and 2019 seems emerge again. The polarization of the moderates -Alberto Fernández in the ruling party and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in the opposition- which dominated politics a year ago, is paving the way for Cristina Kirchner and Mauricio Macri to regain power and protagonism. At the beginning of the week, Alberto Fernández assumes the presidency of the PJ at the head of a list including La Cámpora, trade unionism and the governors. The expected political effect of this event has been diluted by the advance of Kirchnerism registered throughout the first quarter. The Judiciary has to resolve the precautionary action filed by the mayor of Esteban Echeverría, Fernando Gray, to prevent the primary voting called by the Buenos Aires PJ so that Máximo Kirchner is elected president, but the division that has arisen in the official block of the Lower House with the biofuels bill is an unprecedented event in the fifteen months of government that have elapsed. In the opposition, the presentation of Macri's book, "Primer Tiempo", revealed his intention to compete for the presidency in 2023. Rodríguez Larreta, Patricia Bullrich, María Eugenia Vidal and Martín Lousteau, among others (all have a better image than the former president does) and in fact, with his presence, they validated his leadership. In the opposition, according to the aforementioned poll, Larreta maintains a 42% positive image (although it was 53% in May 2020), Vidal 41%, Bullrich 36%, Lousteau 32% and Macri only 30%. The primaries that have taken place in the Radical Party (Córdoba, Buenos Aires, CABA and other districts) show a struggle between those who adhere to Martín Lousteau and Enrique Nosiglia -they won in the Capital city- who support Ernesto Sanz and Gerardo Morales, and those who adhere to Mario Negri - they won in Córdoba and they also won in Buenos Aires. For now, none of the lines suggests dropping Cambiemos. 

4. The insecurity revealed the internal conflict within the ruling party, while vaccination has entered a terrain of uncertainty. The confrontation between the Minister of National Security, Sabina Frederic, who accused the Buenos Aires Minister of Security, Sergio Berni, of being "egocentric" and his response, describing her as "incapable", is the expression of the power relationship between the President and the Vice President. Once again, Fernández failed to remove the provincial official supported by the Buenos Aires governor, Axel Kicillof, in turn aligned with Cristina Kirchner. It was actually another defeat for the President in terms of power. According to information from the Ministry of Health, 3,846,565 vaccines have been distributed, of which 3,026,464 have been applied (2,445,509 in a first dose and 580,955 in a second). The problem is the uncertainty towards the future, since there is no certainty regarding the purchase and flow of vaccines. Regarding the doses applied, Argentina ranks 43rd with 6.78 per 100 inhabitants (it has already been surpassed by Uruguay, which began its vaccination less than a month ago). In terms of infections and deaths, the country ranks 37th for cases per 100,000 inhabitants with 5,047 and 26th for deaths per 100,000, with 122, in each case. Regarding the districts, the City of Buenos Aires is the first of the 24 with 21.3 deaths per million inhabitants, followed by Tierra del Fuego, Santa Cruz, Río Negro and Buenos Aires (which has 15.7 per million ). 

5. To conclude: 

a. One year after the start of the quarantine, the image of the Government has suffered a sharp deterioration: its approval fell 39 points between May 2020 and March 2021. 

b. The appointment of Martín Soria as Minister of Justice and the permanence in office of Sergio Berni confirm the political progress of the Vice President. 

c.  The election of Alberto Fernández as president of the PJ has lost political significance in this context, while the polarization between Cristina and Macri has taken shape, displacing that of Fernández-Larreta. 

d.  The uncertainty about vaccination suggests that it seems to become more of a risk than an electoral opportunity for the Government

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