Argentina: A year of elections - and the end of Kirchner's reign

Transcript of video interview with Dr Joseph Tulchin and Professor Alberto Fohrig

Dr Tulchin:

Good morning, we are talking today with Professor Alberto Fohrig of the University of San Andreas in Buenos Aires. Professor Fohrig is doctor of philosophy from Oxford University in England and an expert in Argentine politics and that’s our purpose in talking with him today. Alberto would you tell us a little bit about the political situation in Argentina?

Professor Fohrig:

The first thing is that we are on the brink of an electoral period in which we will see not only national elections, but also gubernatorial elections in the country. Therefore many of the Argentine provinces have a separate election day, so we will start witnessing some elections in 90 days and they will go on for the rest of the year because the national election takes place at the end of October 2015 and we will have possibly a second round so we will be holding elections from March until November of this year.

So the country is totally immersed in this process and the main political forces are starting to select their candidates in order to compete for this election which is, by the way, I would say very crucial because it marks the end of, not only one presidency but of a political cycle that has lasted for 12 years which means the next president will see at least two periods in office if he doesn't do things awfully.

Dr Tulchin:

Right, well the current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner may not be posted for another term, so she is going to step down. Does she have a preferred candidate amongst her disciples in the Peronist party?

Professor Fohrig:

No, she hasn't. At least she hasn't made that public. There is a front runner in her party which his name is Scioli. He is governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Daniel Scioli. But she never favoured Scioli’s candidacy so even though he is widely accepted in the polls by people from his party as the main candidate, Cristina is not endorsing him accordingly, because possibly her strategy will be to impose some people in the vice presidency in some provinces and in the legislative tickets.

Dr Tulchin:

She sees Scioli as two conservative for her?

Professor Fohrig:

Yes I think that they are ideologically very very different people Scioli is a centre-right person and Cristina thinks about herself as a centre-left person. Therefore she prefers other candidates but which, unfortunately for her, don't have enough backing by the public.

Dr Tulchin:

Right. Now a lot of conversation has come up about a man named Sergio Massa who is the Mayor of Tigre, which is not a very big city in Argentina after all, and a lot of those of us outside of Argentina wonder how it is that he has become so popular but he's also a Peronist isn't he?

Professor Fohrig:

Yes, he is the second major political figure. There are three main candidates. He is the second after Scioli who has a big chance to become the next president. He has been Mayor of Tigre but he was also sort of a prime minister of Cristina during her first term in office. Therefore he was previously very well know at the national level because he had a lot of exposure during his tenure in office at the national level. 


Dr Tulchin:

I see

Professor Fohrig:

Thats why he became widely known by public opinion and at the same time in 2013 election he won the province of Buenos Aires, and he won a provincial election and that election was crucial for Cristina because since Massa won Cristina was forced to step down in her strategy to become elected for a third period.

Dr Tulchin:

Since he worked closely with Cristina at one point do you consider him as conservative as Scioli or do you consider him more progressive?

Professor Fohrig:

Well, all of the candidates that are, that have more possibilities to win next years election are centre right. Simply because again Argentina's political cycle for the last 12 years emphasised centre left values in terms of economic policy, in terms of human rights and other issues, and the public opinion has, I would say, changed its preferences towards a centre right agenda. Therefore the main candidates interpret that agenda backing it by their own ideology.

Dr Tulchin:

Right, well what does that do to the candidacy of Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri who calls himself also the centre right candidate? How do Massa and Scioli effect or hurt Macri's chances?

Professor Fohrig:

Macri is a third important candidate. As we said now in order to wrap up: one is Scioli, who is governor of the province of Buenos Aires, the second one is Massa the Mayor of Tigres you mentioned and the third is Macri.

Macri is the person in charge of the city of Buenos Aires, the city’s capital, he is a mayor of the city and he is the third centre right person but the difference with the other two candidates is that he is not a faction of the Peronist party, he has his own party called PRO, and therefore he doesn't share the same party structure that the previous two candidates somehow divide among themselves.

Therefore he relies on a very different political organisation which is his own and which has lots of limitations in terms of generating a political structure in many many Argentine provinces. The Peronist party has a party that is very much developed in the whole country whereas Macri has his own party in two or three main districts but he lacks strong critical backing, for example in the province of Buenos Aires. And this of course diminishes the possibilities for him to win.

Dr Tulchin: 
Thank you for your time and we look forward to talking with you again as the campaign unfolds.