Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to run for Argentine Senate

Argentina has legislative elections this coming October. The last Presidential election was in 2015, when the current President Mauricio Macri was elected. Macri's party is called the PRO (Propuesta Republicana), originally set up as a vehicle for Macri himself to be elected as the head of government for the City of Buenos Aires (Jefe de Gobierno de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires), an office he held 2007-2015.

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is now positioning herself for a possible 2020 Presidential run. The step in that that direction she took this week was to announce her candidacy for the Argentine national Senate from Buenos Aires province. [Update: Actually she didn't announce her candidacy directly; a close political ally announced that she would be, but she didn't publicly confirm it.] Her electoral coalition just formally constituted itself as the Unidad Ciudadana, which the Télam agency in this report translates into English as Citizen Unity, Cristina Kirchner announces "citizen unity" will be the name of the front with which Kirchnerism will compete in primaries, outside PJ Télam/Yahoo! Noticias 06/14/2017. For Americans, that sounds awfully close to Citizens United, a name that has a bad odor in the United States because of the 2010 Supreme Court decision of that name. Cristina's politics are definitely not like those of the Citizen's United group in the US that brought that case!

Argentine politics is not a two-party affair like we have in the US. But it is a presidential system. The head of government is elected directly and is not a prime minister in the sense of parliamentary systems. And the political alignments at the national level do tend to align on a two-camp basis. One major camp is that of the Peronists, of which Cristina Fernández is very much a part. Peronism is both a party and a movement. The party is the Partido Justicialista (PJ).

The other major alignment since 1946 has been the Radical Civic Union (UCR), which is typically referred to "the radicals" or radicalism (radicalismo), even though they have long since become conservative. The UCR is being absorbed to some extent by the PRO. There is a small Socialist Party, which essentially lines up with the conservatives in the PRO and UCR.

The various parties and splinter groups on both sides ran in 2015 on umbrella tickets. The Peronist ticket headed by Daniel Scioli was called Frente Para la Victoria (FpV). Macri's group was Cambiemos. Macri was also backed by a significant Peronist splinter group called Frente Renovadora, headed by Sergio Massa.

Cristina has now signed a common platform with other left-Peronist (kirchnerista) leaders to create the Unidad Ciudadana electoral front in Buenos Aires province for 2018. And more conservative faction in the PJ headed by Florencio Randazzo will complete in the provincial election as part of the Frente Justicialista, though he will likely have to win an internal primary for the right to head the ticket.

Elecciones 2017: Cristina Kirchner lanzó el frente "Unidad Ciudadana" C5N 06/15/2017:

The Argentine economy has been in decline pretty much since taking office in December 2015. And that's a feature, not a bug for the Macri government. They have applied Herbert Hoover "Washington Consensus" economic policies from the start, including big budget cuts, deregulation of business, raising utility and public transit prices, all accompanied by major inflation and rising unemployment.

The inflation is very much related to economic policies of Macri's government. The prior government had used a system of capital controls and price regulations to maintain economic stability, promote the growth of domestic industry and maintain necessary dollar reserves. Macri's government pretty much dumped that whole menu of policies very quickly. High inflation and growing unemployment followed.

Debt for developing countries is different for that of the more developed countries. Because it becomes a tool that foreign governments and corporations can use to keep the debtor country in a state of dependency. The Kirchner governments of 2003-2008 had drastically reduced the debt, which had previously led to the severe financial crisis of 2001. Now Macri has put that course into full reverse: Argentina becomes largest debtor among emerging markets Buenos Aires Herald 06/14/2017.

There are plenty of political issues to fight about over the next 2 1/2 years.

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