The new ministers swear in Argentina 0:55
(CNN Spanish) -
(CNN Spanish) -
The results in the last primary elections in Argentina have caused a political earthquake in the Frente de Todos, the ruling alliance of President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Together for Change, the main opposition force, prevailed in the City of Buenos Aires, in the province of Buenos Aires, in Córdoba, in Santa Fe and in Mendoza, the five most populated districts of the country, according to official data.
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In this way, it surpassed the Frente de Todos, a coalition formed in 2019 and led by the Justicialista Party (or Peronism), the followers of Cristina Fernández (or Kirchnerists) and other center-left and left forces in the simultaneous and mandatory open primaries (PASO ) to elect national legislators.
"We will have done something so that they do not accompany us"
"Obviously we have not done something right so that people do not accompany us as we expected them to accompany us," said President Fernández when he accepted defeat.
On Wednesday, three days after the results were known, six ministers (including those responsible for the Interior and Justice) and officials at other levels offered their resignations to Fernández, starting a political crisis in the government.
The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, together with Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
A day later, Vice President Cristina Fernández published an extensive open letter referring to the fact that "Peronism suffered an electoral defeat in unprecedented legislative elections" and assured that it was not heard by the president about "the lack of effectiveness in different areas of government. "He also asked him to" relaunch "his government, all while a deputy close to the vice president, Fernanda Vallejos, insulted President Fernández in a viral audio.
Argentina, which was already in recession after registering declines of 2% of GDP in 2018 and 2.1% in 2019 during the government of Mauricio Macri, experienced a sharp drop in its GDP in 2020 as a result of the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus: the economy contracted 9.9%. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec), poverty stood at 42% of the population in 2020, with 10.2% unemployment.
"I think these results clearly have to do with the economic situation, in general the votes are multifaceted and people vote for different things, but if I had to point out the most key element it is obviously the economic situation that the Frente de Todos does not. it was able to reverse and it deepened with a very bad management of the pandemic, "said Juan Negri, director of the Political Science and Government and International Studies majors at the Torcuato di Tella University, to CNN.
Finally, cabinet changes
Although internal frictions persist, only one of the six ministers who offered their resignations, close to Cristina Fernández, finally left his post, and Alberto Fernández ended up renewing his cabinet, as requested by the vice president in her letter, making other changes, which also shows a principle of agreement.
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The situation has in any case generated strong tensions within the Frente de Todos and especially between Fernández, chosen by Cristina Fernández to head the candidacy for president in 2019, and the vice president, considered the strongest figure within the coalition.
“The results were terrible for the government, which was not expecting them.
The government raised these midterm elections, very much in the style of Kirchnerism, as a plebiscite on the Fernández government.
And he lost in districts where he had historically won, ”Alejandro Corbacho, director of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at CEMA University in Buenos Aires, Argentina, told CNN.
Corbacho recalled, however, that these elections "are primaries, a previous electoral turn designed for the parties to present alternative candidates for the people to vote," and anticipates that the government will partly improve its performance in the general elections of November 14, when greater participation is expected.
The PASO, implemented in Argentina in 2009, are a mandatory instance by which voters are called to choose between different alternatives within the different political forces, in order to define the candidates that will later be presented in general elections.
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For Negri, Kirchner “represents the most leftist and heterodox position within Peronism, which in general has relied on material resources - in addition to symbolic ones - which the government now lacks, and in general there are different visions of the role of the State in the economy in a situation like this ”.
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"Cristina said it clearly in the letter, she hopes that there will be much greater spending, much greater presence of the state and that her objective is to win the province of Buenos Aires in this way," said Negri.
Corbacho considered that “the problem with this campaign is that the government had to face the pandemic that hit everyone very hard.
People think that this government mismanaged the pandemic because it applied a very extensive isolation that lasted 7 months and slowed down economic activity.
So far Argentina has registered 5,241,394 infections and 114,518 deaths from covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
This is a rate of 2,511.04 deaths per million inhabitants, one of the highest in the world according to Our World in Data.
In the region it is lower than Brazil (2,761.56) and Peru (5,966.41), but higher than Chile (1,944.95) and Uruguay (1,735.36).
On the other hand, to date, 29,126,476 people (63.8%) have been vaccinated with one dose and 20,602,871 (44.5%) with two doses of the vaccine against covid-19.
These are percentages higher than the world average (43.7% one dose, 32% complete vaccination).
Responsibilities in defeat
"The Frente de Todos has an original defect, which is that it was never able to institutionalize a functioning, where there are very different perspectives on economic management, between Kirchnerism and moderate Peronism," said Negri.
Wave of resignations and relays of ministers in Argentina 3:19
“I think the recent events more than a breakup confirm a mutual discomfort.
It is clear that Cristina chose Alberto Fernández out of necessity, and I think that now she thinks that it is a government that lacks a lot of political volume, "he added.
"What remains is a very difficult coexistence until 2023, in which no political, economic or social actor expects anything from the government," he said.
For Corbacho, Vice President Kirchner has a significant share of responsibility for the electoral defeat.
"The government presented unified lists entered by the vice presidency, but Cristina does not accept being guilty of the defeat," he said.
"This crisis is not of democracy or institutional, not even of the street - there are no mobilizations -, but it is about the background fight between Cristina and Alberto Fernández," he considered.
Origin and future of the Frente de Todos
“This government came with an idea of double command.
A natural candidate with her own votes decides not to go as head and seeks, with a surprising maneuver, to present herself as vice president and offers Alberto Fernández to be a candidate for president, ”Corbacho recalled.
Cristina Kirchner dedicates a hard letter to Fernández 4:16
Alberto Fernández has an extensive career in Argentine politics. While still a Peronist, he was a member of the government of President Raúl Alfonsín (Unión Cívica Radical, 1983-1989) and later held a position in the government of the Peronist Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999). In 2000 he collaborated with the former liberal economy minister Domingo Cavallo, before becoming the chief of staff of the late President Néstor Kirchner (Peronism, 2003-2007), husband of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in 2003. Alberto Fernández resigned from his post in 2008 after coming into conflict with Cristina Fernández (who succeeded Kirchner and the governor between 2007 and 2015), and then began collaborating with oppositional Peronist candidates for the government, sometimes harshly criticizing the now vice president.
But in 2019 both met again: together they formed the Frente de Todos and won the elections against then-president Mauricio Macri.
“It is a remarkable change in policy, not only in Argentina.
Cristina managed to get to the presidency, because if she ran for president she was not sure of achieving it: she has a very high floor and a very low ceiling.
One group of people hates her and another loves her, ”Corbacho said.
“Alberto Fernández was presented as a moderate candidate.
But circumstances are leading officials to move to a more oppositional stance, "he said.
Negri, meanwhile, said he did not believe that there could be a break between the two.
"Neither Alberto Fernández is going to get rid of Cristina nor is she going to force the resignation of the president, the two need each other."
Alberto FernándezCristina Fernández de Kirchner