Big question over Kirchner legacy in Argentina

Big question over Kirchner legacy in Argentina

Candidates for Argentina’s presidential election on October 25, 2015, are more or less set and most of the drama and confusion has been resolved, writes Dr Joseph S. Tulchin.

Candidates have been selected for the August 9 primaries, so we know who the players are and the major ones will be jockeying for position to gain any advantage.

Argentines will also elect governors for half of the provinces, the lower chamber of the congress, and one third of the upper chamber in October.

Three important issues have been decided for now, leaving one huge question which cannot be answered until the new president is sworn in on December 10. First, Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province, has won the nomination for the portion of the Peronist Movement dominated by President Cristina Kirchner, The Front for Victory. He was forced to accept Carlos Zannini, as his vice-presidential running mate - a confidant of the president.

Second, the president decided not to run for any electoral office in the coming elections. Her son, Maximo, will run for the lower house in his home province, Santa Cruz, and other loyal followers will share responsibility for keeping her name and power alive should she want to run again for the presidency in four years.

Third, the principal forces of the opposition, two factions of the Radical Party and the centre-right party, PRO, the Republican Proposal, have joined forces as Cambiemos - Let’s Change - to contest the primaries and put forward joint lists in the presidential elections and the provinces. Two other factions of the Peronist Movement have joined together to form the Union for a New Argentina (UNA) and will have their own primary in which the mayor of Tigre, Sergio Massa, the Renovation Front, will compete with the governor of Cordoba province, Jose Manuel de la Sota, of the Christian Democratic Party.

And, a faction of the Radical Party led by deputy Margarita Stolbizer, has refused to enter the Cambiemos-coalition and will run as the candidate of the Progresista Party.

The unanswerable question is whether the president can hold on to power after leaving office. She is doing all she can to retain her faction of the Peronist Movement intact.

Through her son and her economics minister, Axel Kicillof, who tops the list for candidates for the lower house for the city of Buenos Aires, Mrs Kirchner hopes to maintain control over both houses of congress and with Mr Zannini as vice president, keep Mr Scioli in line with her populist orthodoxy.

I am extremely sceptical that she can hold onto power after December. Even if Mr Scioli wins in October, given the relative capacity for autonomous action in the provinces and the formidable opposition that the Radicals and PRO blocs will represent in the new congress, it is more likely that a Scioli administration will drift away from Mrs Kirchner’s policies and slowly build a government with its own profile. His first priority will be to end Argentina’s control over the exchange rate and bring it back into the global financial community.

If the Cambiemos candidate wins in October, Mrs Kirchner’s power will diminish faster and more completely.

Related reports:

No end in sight for Argentina’s economic stagnation

Argentina faces critical stage in settling 15-year debt dispute

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