The Time for Consensus is Over: The Drums of War Are Rumbling in Argentina

The Time for Consensus is Over: The Drums of War Are Rumbling in Argentina

Tobias Belgrano
Peronist Manifestation in Buenos Aires. Source: Infobae.

This article was intended to address the negotiation between different Argentinian leaders after the legislative election and the benefits it could have for the economy. However, just three days after the election, only 72 hours after President Fernandez addressed the opposition, the Peronist leader burnt his bridges with the radical right-wing, strongmen antagonists.

The legislative elections in Argentina on November 14, 2021, were the final battle of the scenario discussed in this article. The right-wing coalition Juntos won in 13 districts, but with a narrower difference in the Buenos Aires Province, a historic Peronist stronghold. With this result, Frente de Todos, the incumbent coalition, and Juntos got the same number of representatives in the deputies chamber.

These results gave the government the sense of a “tie”, especially due to the fact that Buenos Aires is often defined as the ‘mother of all battles’ when talking about Argentinian elections. Last Sunday, Alberto Fernández‘s administration was able to narrow the results of September’s defeat from 9% to 1.3% for the government’s candidate Victoria Tolosa Paz in the Peronist district.

The opposition leaders, Buenos Aires City Governor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and former President Mauricio Macri, were sober in their victory speeches since the difference was so narrow. However, the government didn't waste any time, and after the reading of the first results, President Fernández went on air with a recorded message assuring the public that a new era was coming for the country, an era that would end the economic uncertainty that the Argentinians had suffered through. The message included a critical view of the past two years, acknowledged the difficulties caused by the pandemic, as well as acknowledged the impact of foreign debt in the Macri administration.

The Time for Consensus is Over: The Drums of War Are Rumbling
Election results in the Buenos Aires Province. Source: Clarin.

But the main dish of the president's speech was the need to agree to terms for negotiation with the IMF, including a spot for the opposition that won the election at the table. The president assured the public that

"If we want to solve the challenges we are heading, we need the big majorities to generate agreements. In this sense, as briefly as possible I’m going to meet the representatives of the popular will and listen to their views to agree on an agenda as broad as possible. A responsible opposition is a patriotic one, and this is what our people need.”.

In this line, the IMF pleaded for an agreement that includes “political support.”

The Answers to the Call

One of the main antagonists of the Government is former President Mauricio Macri who, on the right-wing TV news channel "La Nacion+", criticized the call to dialogue as an "opportunist action" by the President. Other members of the former Macri administration, such as the President of the PRO Party (Macri's party) rejected the idea of consensus by affirming that she "did not hear any call for dialogue".

The other rejection came from the ultra-conservative, alt-right leader and economist Javier Milei. The radical candidate was elected with 17% of the votes in Buenos Aires City, and when asked about the head of the executive he responded, “I do not have a dialogue with immoral people. We have a different approach, we think about the issues from a moral point of view. Our main problem is the collectivism that has so impoverished us."

The Drums of War

The Time for Consensus is Over: The Drums of War Are Rumbling
Peronist Manifestation in Buenos Aires. Source: Infobae.

November 17 in Argentina is known as the “political activist day.” It commemorates the return of General Peron to the country after 18 years of exile caused by the military dictatorships and political proscription. The President chose this specific day to exhibit his political strength.

Worker unions and political activists of all the groups that integrate the Frente de Todos coalition were summoned to Mayo Square where the president was expecting them in a political rally. Alberto Fernandez was the main, and only, speaker. In his speech, he attacked the opposition, specifically Macri and Milei, and he affirmed that he was not going to have a dialogue if they didn't want to.

"That we can also build with those who don’t think like us. I listened to their responses. If Macri doesn’t want to talk, let him be alone with his friends doing business, no problem. If Milei doesn’t want to talk, let him stay locked up with those colleagues he has that deny diversity and deny state terrorism. We have nothing to talk about with them, let them stay there."

La Nacion, November 17, 2021

However, theirs is also a battle behind the scenes, a staple in Argentine politics. As mentioned previously, president Fernandez needs to show strength inside his own party and with associates, specifically the Vice-President and former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.  According to Minister Anibal, the head of state was bold in promoting his candidacy for reelection in 2023. Moreover, one of the Union's chiefs, Hector Daer, assured that "two years without a pandemic will give the president the possibility of being reelected".

The real defiance to the inner members of the coalition was when Alberto Fernandez promised that in 2023, all embers of the coalition will compete in a primary to define the leadership, including the President himself. By opening this possibility, the war for the Presidency has not only started against the opposition but also inside the alliance that brought both Fernandez's to power in 2019.

The next two years, according to Hector Daer, will define the destiny of this South American nation until 2027. Not only will the combat be from the outside but it will be more hastened from the inside, thereby applying to both coalitions.

Whatever happens in 2023, November 17, 2021 showcases that the drums of war are rumbling.

  • Does Alberto Fernandez have a chance to be reelected due to his own political strength?
  • Are the next two years the beginning of a political battle for 2023?
  • What will the effects on stability be if the fights inside the coalitions are happening in a presidential system?

Suggested Readings

  • Juan Linz. “The dangers of Presidentialism”. Revista Latinoamericana de Política Comparada, July 2013.
  • Carlos Piñeiro Iñíguez. “Peron, the construction of an ideology”. SIGLO XXI DE ARG EDITORES, March 2010.
  • Diego Genoud. “The Peronism of Cristina” Siglo XXI editores, April 2021.

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The Time for Consensus is…

by Tobias Belgrano time to read: 1 min
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