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There had been several articles reporting Argentina’s political situation on this platform. During the year 2022, the “gaucho” political system suffered several challenges in a post-pandemic context where citizen discontent exploded. As usual, the emotional (and economic) feelings during 2022 were a rollercoaster which included a change in the economic policies of the Frente de Todos government, a murder attempt against the Vice President and political leader of the coalition, Cristina Kirchner, and the Qatar 2022 world championship in December. Everything in the context of the Presidential race in 2023.
“My first goal for 2022 is to become financially stable.” Maybe next year…
During the first part of the year, economic unrest was the order of the day. Minister of Economy, Guzman, was constantly challenged by the Kirchner faction of the government. Although attacks against Guzman began in 2021, on this occasion, the main attack was related to the debate for the IMF debt restructuring, the Kirchner faction intended to disregard the debt mainly because of the terms of the agreement signed by Mauricio Macri’s government. The funds injected into the Argentinian economy were not in accordance with the country’s participation in the fund, the country received the amount of US$50 billion, the equivalent to 1,110 percent of Argentina’s quota in the IMF, thus violating the rules of the credit institution. Moreover, according to reports from the IMF, the Executive Board approved in June 2018 the largest stand-by arrangement in the Fund’s history, providing the country with US$57 billion (1,227 percent of Argentina’s IMF quota). These arguments in favor of not paying the external debt became radical after former IDB Director Mauricio Claver Carone affirmed that the payment had the aim of propping the Argentine economy before the 2019 election to favor President Macri’s reelection attempt.
Yet, the former disciple of Stiglitz Martin Guzman had other ideas in mind. Despite the political intention of the Trump administration of helping his ally in the 2019 elections, the Minister intended to stop the currency crisis and gain some credibility from foreign investors. The challenges against Guzman became so constant, that the Minister challenged Mrs. Kirchner by resigning via Twitter during a political rally where she was criticizing his policies.
After the resignation, the battle for succession between political factions began. The Kirchner branch of the government supported the right-wing Peronist leader Sergio Massa, a member of the decision-making table and one of the principal political shareholders of the coalition.
However, the President was firm in his intention of promoting his political ally Silvina Batakis, the former Minister of Economy for the Buenos Aires Province. Her nomination was against the interest of big market players which caused a new currency crisis of Argentinian pesos moving towards U.S. dollars and further depreciating the national currency. Her experience in the Ministry of Economy was as brief as Liz Truss’s experience as Prime Minister.
After 24 days in office, Batakis was displaced from her position, and Sergio Massa became a “Super Minister” his new charge included leadership over the Agriculture Ministry, Production Ministry, and Economy. His first policies were toward a more market-friendly economy, by reducing the fiscal deficit and aligning with the IMF policies. Despite those being the ideas that caused the exclusion of his predecessors, Massa had the consent of the vice president, thus becoming evident that the problem had nothing to do with ideology, but with politics.
“Prioritize Self-Care,” I think I’ll get it right in 2023.
On another matter, 2022 was one of the years in which political discontent reached the limit of violence. During the last days of August, Cristina Kirchner’s trial got her one step closer to a sentence confirming the corruption scandals during her administration.
Political violence had been scaling since the pandemic. In 2022 protests against the government got to the level of building a guillotine in front of the Presidential palace. In other protests, government dissidents attacked Mrs. Kirchner’s office with rocks. The climax of this climate of agitation came on September first, when the judiciary situation of the vice president got her closer to jail time, her supporters invaded the wealthy neighborhood of Recoleta (where Mrs. Kirchner actually lives) to “protect her” against any possible unfavorable court sentences. One night after her workday in the Senate, while the vice president was going inside her house and waving to her supporters, a gun appeared from the crowd aiming at her face, the man pulled the trigger, but the bullet didn’t come out of the gun.
The year 2022 was the year of political violence reappearing in Latin America. In Brazil, the 2022 campaign was tainted with violence. The race included several killings of Lula Da Silva’s supporters, one of them with an axe. The brutality reached Lula himself when during a political rally, he and his supporters were attacked by a massive shooting.
In Colombia, Vice President Francia Marquez suffered a murder attempt when her security team deactivated an explosive that was positioned near her residence.
“Set a personal best in a competition” At least I got that one right.
After a thrilling final with France, where Argentina won by penalties, an exhilarating joy filled the streets of the South American Nation. A sudden sense of lost pride appeared among citizens. The World Cup mobilized 5 million people to celebrate the national team’s victory, self-pride and respect filled the Argentinians once again. Soccer gave people more joy than the political system has in recent years.
Nonetheless, even in the organization of the celebration, the internal conflicts within the Frente de Todos Coalition caused major inefficiency, making the celebration something exclusive of the players and the people. It was the largest massive concentration of people since the return of former President Juan Domingo Peron to Argentina in 1973. In this case, politics were completely sidelined from the festivities, revealing a sense of orphanhood of society from the political system.
The World Cup revealed a gap between the political establishment and the voters before the 2023 Presidential race. The Peronist coalition faces the symbolic defeat of being the representation of bad news for society against a group of athletes that won a competition and moved over 45 million souls. However, the government is not the only one at risk of the political divorce of society and citizenship. Former president Mauricio Macri faces a firm rejection of 68% among voters. Thus rupture is within the entire political system, fertile soil for populists and outsiders. The 2023 election will reveal the level of rejection and if the faith in the traditional party system can be restored. We live in hope.
- Is the Argentinian government in a condition to deal with the “goals” of 2023?
- How will the government deal with its internal affairs while it tries to deal with public discontent?
- How will Presidential authorities recover from these setbacks?