Monday, October 24, 2011

If Chavez ruled as the Kirchners...

He would be reelected without trouble.....

One has to be impressed by the performance of Cristina Kirchner getting her second term with more than 53% of the votes and no one else even close to 20%.  Two years ago one did not give her much of a chance.  Her party and husband  had just lost a congressional majority after her fiasco with the agricultural sector taxes.  In fact some even went on speculating about a traditional early presidential exit...

But her husband died, she became a widow that had to be respected, she played it well, the opposition did nothing out of its majority in congress as too many were only too willing to reach agreements with the executive.  The the opposotion imploded really bad, sent multiple candidates and she was one to one of the most stunning results in Argentina history.  As I type this it is not clear whether she will recover the majority in congress but after such a victory she should have no trouble in finding junior partners.

Why should a country supposedly as sophisticated as Argentina give such a resounding victory to a corrupt administration?  Has cynicism reached such socially acceptable status?

The first thing is that Argentina is not that sophisticated and since Peron never really had a chance to establish a truly democratic system.  Peronism, divided or not, in crisis or not, never got less than around 40%.  It is a religion and today if you add the dissident peronistas we are talking more than 60%.As we see in Venezuela, the three richest districts, the three most educated ones, Cristina wins but fail to reach the majority (35 in Buenos Aires, 37 in Cordoba and 42 in Santa Fe).  And what is perhaps the dumpster of Argentina, Santiago del Estero, she gets more than her home state even, 82%.

Still, a more united opposition could have well got more than 40%, perhaps even forced a second round.  But no, it has been a battle of has-beens and wanna-bes and the most promising candidates such as Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, bailed out early enough not to be tainted by these unseeming internecine battles.

The hard fact here is that the regime of Crisitna, even if as abusive as the Chavez one in many aspects, has been able to deliver some, corruption and all while her pretense at institutionalism rung truer than the one in the bolibanana republic.  After the horrendous crisis of the turn of the century Argentina has reached a fragile but real recovery and the people, well, they do not see anywhere in the opposition someone that can offer better than Crisitna, una chica peronista as any.  Now Argentina gets 4 years of Cristina mandate, a large majority of governors, and possibly a congressional majority.  But she also gets a worsening world crisis, a possible drop in her exports prices while people want to consume more.  We'll see.

The lesson for Venezuela is clear: 1) the opposition needs to keep its unity at all costs, 2) even a small artificial economic rebound could be enough to return Chavez to office, the more so if he manages to solve partially at least one of the pressing problems of the country, 3) Chavez will play on his disease like mad and 4) the opposition needs to understand that it is facing the birth of a Venezuelan peronism in chavismo; the sooner it gets it, the sooner we may avoid that fate.


  1. I have to wonder what Cristina would, and Nestor before her would have, done if they could have gotten away with it. I'm not convinced at all they are democrats, just people who go along with the system as much as they have to to achieve their aims. Much like Chavez.

    The difference is they can't get away with nearly as much in Argentina as Hugo can in Venezuela. But similar to Venezuela, their efforts to secure political power are managing to grind the country economically. The fact that it's far worse in Venezuela is reflective in large part of the greater degree of control Hugo has. (And for those who point to good GDP growth in Argentina, all I can say is: just keep watching.)

    I do have to question one of your statements, Daniel: "Peron never really had a chance to establish a truly democratic system." I'm not sure that he ever made an effort.

    Oh, and she failed to win a majority in the city of Buenos Aires (she did in the province, btw), but she did - and this surprises me - manage a plurality there. And Santa Fe, where Binner couldn't even carry his home. Plenty of people ruled her out two years ago, but my mantra then was "Too soon to tell."

  2. Daniel,

    The performance of the opposition in Argentina should make us value more the achievement of the Venezuelan opposition in unifying to select a sole candidate through primaries!

    It is nearly a natural tendency of politicians to try to strike separate deals when confronted with an extremely powerful government.

    This Unity of our opposition has held in spite of government manipulations to break it up of which the treatment of Leopoldo is just an example.More attempts will follow and the opposition will have to overcome them to reach its goal.

    The 2 main tendencies in the opposition of how best to confront Chavez are both being represented by strong candidates in these primaries.

    Capriles represents those who believe that a moderate option has to be offered in which those who have been convinced by years of propaganda of the demonic qualities of the opposition are soothed by a candidate who offers reconciliation and calms the fears of " losing the good things that Chavez has brought"

    In LL we have a fighter, ready to take Chavismo head on and use his charisma in a direct confrontation with Chavez, also promising a larger degree of immediate change.

  3. RabbiBulla7:15 PM

    Poor Argentina (a relative of mine in past wrote the national anthem).
    For years I have hoped that President Cristina Kirchner would just resign. But, she has no shame.
    I hate to disrespect people,really, but I have called her a liar since before they came to power-and nothing changes my opinion of her. Poor, ignorant Argentina.I could rant for weeks about this.All I will say- is go find out the facts for yourself.Daniel, just because she is getting reelected -doesn't mean that this is right.
    Opposition had all evidence, all truth, and shot themselves in the foot and gagged themselves...

  4. Glenn1:41 AM

    In answer to your questions: "Has cynicism reached such socially acceptable status?" Yes.

    As to improved economy helping Chavez? Same answer- yes. He will be credited while he never contributed. Its a horrible coincidence.

  5. She seems like a Hugo clone from here. Just another commiecrat

  6. RabbiBulla4:27 PM

    "Such a shame: Argentina should be a wealthy country with all the resources a nation could want, a breadbasket of the world.

    Instead, they keep making themselves a basket-case."

    Quote from Phineaus.
    Mental illness is the reason,

  7. Milonga11:03 PM

    The best explanation I heard as to Kristina's win was from the director of Poliarquia, a polling company: The argentineans are more afraid of the power vacuum than the excess of power. This related to De la Rua´s disastrous government and those that followed. Also, economics are supposedly OK, although numbers are masked and many (47%) don't quite believe in Cristina in Wonderland. But people are able to buy which is not the case in Venezuela, I presume. Anyways, unity of the opposition is something that must be fought for every single day.

  8. RabbiBulla3:20 AM

    Over 50% of the Argentine government's income comes from
    taxes of exports- most all exports are food-agricultural products.
    Like Chavez with PDVSA- Kirchner is strangling "the golden goose"
    and large farmers have hated her from day one.
    Thanks to much higher prices for agricultural products-the farmers have survived -and the government has reaped the tax rewards..
    Plus-the government numbers on the economy are phony...anyway- Argentines are lazy- the opposition failed completely and it turned into a cakewalk for
    Cristina Kirchner. The nightmare


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