Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Right wins the Argentine Presidency

The Kirchner era (2003-2015) is over. For the time being.

The oligopoly's candidate Mauricio Macri won the Presidential runoff against the Peroist candidate Daniel Scioli, who had served as Governor of Buenos Aires province. The City of Buenos Aires, is where Macri has served as Governor since 2007 with the PRO party, which he founded. He failed in his Presidential challenge to encumbent Cristina Fernández in 2011. But he succeeded this time.

Projections at the time of 51% of the ballots were counted showed a strong win for Macri with 54%, 46% for Scioli. (Macri mantiene la ventaja 22.11.2015)

That same Página/12 article included this Draculaesque photo of Macri:

The Buenos Aires Herald reports with 93% of the returns shows Macri with 52%, Scioli 48%. Cristina has called Macri with her congratulations (CFK calls Macri to congratulate him; they will meet on Tuesday Buenos Aires Herald 11/22/2015)

Scioli has also conceded: Jorge Otaola and Juliana Castilla, Opposition candidate Macri wins Argentina's presidential election Reuters 11/22/2015.

Página/12 profiled the two runoff candidates in Los candidatos en espejo 22.11.2015. The Buenos Aires Herald provides a list of the two candidates' positions in English, Main positions of each candidate 11/22/2015.

Macri is kind of an Argentinian Mitt Rommey, born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. A typical plutocrat, in other words, though the Peronists typically call them oligarchs. In American political vocabulary, underdeveloped countries have "oligarchs," we just have "the wealthy." Or, if you're a Republican, "job creators."

The Miami Herald carries a decent AP article on the election by Peter Prengman, Opposition wins Argentine election, ending ‘Kirchner era’ 11/22/2015 Prengman notes accurately that Cristina "along with her late husband dominated the country’s political scene for 12 years and rewrote its social contract." He doesn't mention that Scioli's defeat will very likely mean that Cristina will start immediately working toward a third term in 2019.

Prengman gives this brief summary of some of Macri's likely economic policies:

Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, promised to lift unpopular controls on the buying of U.S. dollars and thus eliminate a booming black market for currency exchange. Doing that would likely lead to a sharp devaluation of the Argentine peso. With low foreign reserves, the government would desperately need an immediate infusion of dollars. Those could come from many different places, but ultimately would require structural changes to a largely protectionist economy, solving the debt spat and developing warmer relations with other nations, including the United States.
In other words, the neoliberal prescription will get yet another test in Argentina.

María Esperanza Casullo describes the rise of the Macri/PRO/Cambiemos coalition in Argentina’s Cambiemos: A party from the elite, by the elite, for the elite? NACLA 11/06/2015:

Last week’s [October 25] election confirmed that there is now a strong center-right party in Argentina. The leadership of that party is decidedly “porteño” in origin, unapologetically pro-market in its ideological orientation, and led by members of the country’s economic elite. What’s more, Macri’s Cambiemos coalition has shown that it has the ability to win votes among the poor on its own.

The election [of October 25] was not good for Peronism. The Peronist candidate, Daniel Scioli, raked in the lowest share for the party since 1983 (37%), while the Cambiemos coalition surprised everyone, obtaining 34% of the national vote. The election in the province of Buenos Aires, which contains 38% of all Argentine voters, included even greater losses for Peronist candidates. Even though the province of Buenos Aires is historically a Peronist stronghold — a non-Peronist governor has not been elected there since 1983 — Cambiemos won the governorship of the province by four points (39% to 35%). In the cities of the province, voters rejected half of the Peronist mayoral incumbents. This included the defeat of a Peronist trade union leader and sitting mayor, Francisco “Barba” Gutiérrez, who lost in the city of Quilmes to a TV chef. Peronism even lost for the very first time in the town of Berisso, nicknamed “the cradle of Peronism.” The first protesters demanding Juan Domingo Perón’s liberation from prison famously marched from Berisso to Buenos Aires in 1945, a moment that is considered the birth of the Peronist movement.

... Both the new governor of Buenos Aires and the Buenos Aires mayor are close allies of Mauricio Macri, having risen to their current positions from within Macri’s own inner circle rather than holding positions of local leadership. Neither of them have their own loyal constituencies and would likely answer to Mauricio Macri in a very direct and vertical manner, should he be elected.
Although Macri's team advocates assistance for the poor and Macri himself made a show of respect for classic Peronism, we can expect a neoliberal/Washington Consensus set of economic policies from his government:

The policy implications of a possible Cambiemos presidency remain difficult to parse. There is no question that most of the economic and policy advisers that the coalition has recruited advocate what political scientists Steven Levitsky and Kenneth Roberts have called “social liberalism” — that is, support for maximum freedom for economic markets and a reduction of state intervention, with the exception of some anti-poverty initiatives. In matters of foreign policy, leaders of Cambiemos have also suggested that they would re-align Argentina toward the United States, and away from Brazil and other South American nations.
Macri has criticized Cristina's governments policy of resisting the ludicrous demands of American vulture funds for repayment of defaulted debt: "a Macri government would almost certainly return Argentina to the capital markets, both settling the bill with the foreign “vulture funds” and using foreign-issued debt as a mechanism to offset the costs of liberalizing the dollar and eliminating soybean export taxes."

Settling on terms favorable to the vultures would in itself be a devastating blow for Argentina's economy. Running up large debts that bring healthy profits to foreign lenders and opportunities for vulture funds has been a hallmark of neoliberal policies in Latin America and elsewhere.

The main face of the vulture funds in the dispute with Argentina has been hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, who recently endorsed Mario Rubio for the American Presidency.

I'm thinking I'm hearing from somewhere a song to the tune of the Louvin Brothers' "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night":

Oh, the vulture funds rejoiced in New York last night
I heard Paul Singer praying, Maricio make it right
They were laughing and drinking, with tears in their eyes
'Cause Macri won the vote in Argentina last night

Here's Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell doing the original song:

Shoot, it such a great song, here's another version, Rhonda Vincent and Rebecca Lynn Howard - The Angel's Rejoiced:

No comments: