In the primary elections held this Sunday in Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s formula won a resounding victory. With 47.65%, the disparity with the official Macri-Pichetto was more than 15 percentage points or almost four million votes.
The Frente de Todos surpassed the government in 22 of 23 provinces, with the exception of Córdoba and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, where the wide margin of pro-government advantage in previous elections was considerably reduced. In the province of Buenos Aires, whose electoral roll represents 37% of the total, the victory is decisive.
Further back in popular favor came the Lavagna-Urtubey duo with 8%, which was of little weight when it came to depolarizing the election.
With a turnout (75.8%) similar to that of the 2015 primaries and a flow of null and white votes of around 4%, the election provides evidence of a difficult margin for Macri in the October elections, anticipating the return of a progressive government in Argentina.
Local and geopolitical context of the result
In order to assess this result, it is necessary to mention as an objective element the grave social context marked by growing poverty, unemployment and falling purchasing power that affects a large proportion of Argentines. The recessive policy of the government, the indiscriminate opening to imports, the massive flight of capital, the stratospheric dimensions of the financial business have buried the productive economy, the small and medium industries and businesses. All this, added to inflation above the increase in income and high tariffs on services, have condemned millions of Argentines to enter (or return to) the multidimensional poverty stratum, from which they had managed to escape through redistributive policies in the previous Kirchnerist governments.
In order to hide or minimize the psychic – and therefore political – effects of the population’s deteriorating standard of living, excessive indebtedness and productive disinvestment, the government had the complicit protection of the dominant media conglomerates. Media that, together with dependent judges and the concurrence of sectors of the intelligence services, subverted all sense of democracy and legality by persecuting, defaming and even imprisoning leading figures of the opposition.
Broadening the focus, this constituted a tactic identical to that used in other Latin American countries, which points to the electoral proscription of progressive leaders of the caliber of Lula da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa, Jorge Glas or Ricardo Patiño in Ecuador. It is the judicial war (or “lawfare”) whose geostrategic objective is to reposition Latin American and Caribbean governments aligned with the interests of the United States.
This underground war, in turn, is framed in the reaction to the ongoing process of de-Westernization of world power, with the rise and alliance of powers such as China and Russia on the global chessboard, along with the emergence of a strong current in favor of a new multilateral system of international relations.
Macri’s government has been a functional framework to the reaction of the United States to the wave of emancipatory integration that advanced in Latin America and the Caribbean since the beginning of the 21st century, helping to shatter any spirit of solidarity and intra-regional sovereignty. That is why this defeat represents a break in the Latin American mosaic of neocolonial viceroys set up by the strategy of the once dominant power. It is symbolic, given the preliminary nature of this election, but it instills an enormous spirit in the social and political movements that work in an emancipatory direction.
The power of the political
These elections, contrary to what is often said with reference to a certain “anti-political apathy”, highlight the strength of political action, as this is how this new majority was constructed.
The backbone of the massive movement that accompanies the candidatures of Alberto and Cristina (popularly known by the initials FF and the homonymy of their surnames) is undoubtedly formed by the re-encounter of the different currents of Peronism, a vortex that has historically consisted of popular sectors in pursuit of foundational social achievements which, once configured, possesses for adherents to the Peronist epic an uncontrollable attraction.
The agreement of the majority of the Peronist governors – except for now those of Cordoba and Salta -, the aggregation of numerous mayors in key districts and the meeting and activation of the main union forces managed to establish a decisive political nucleus.
At the same time, the Frente de Todos took on an integrating and transversal character, widening its ideological frontiers, sheltering a wide range of non-Peronist opposition forces, such as unofficial sectors of radicalism, communists, humanists, Bolivarians, cooperativists and municipalists, together with the powerful contribution of a varied range of grassroots social movements in a heterogeneous but solid unity.
The intelligent move to place competitive candidates such as Axel Kiciloff and Verónica Magario to confront the laboratory product of the liberal right Vidal in Buenos Aires Province, the decision not to produce fissures in intrapartisan competitions, the courageous and generous attitude of the former president to accompany as Vice President to facilitate the rapprochement and support of all sectors, showed the ability of a winning political strategy.
With their own understanding of the need and the best feelings, the organic militancy and the independent militancy complied with an admirable harmony to the strategy, in the awakening of a political mystique that the individualism propelled by the government tried to suffocate definitively.
Squares and stadiums were filled again with hundreds of thousands of people excited and hopeful to recover the collective and the common. To place worthy representatives of the community of interests that represents a nation, became an absolute priority and around it a strong collective harmony was woven, that swept aside all roughness or possible uncoupling.
Unity in diversity and harmony will be fundamental to remember in the subsequent stages.
Dangers to October
Macri’s government, now on the defensive, has shown little scruples. A trait he shares with those who support him in the shadows. It is unlikely that the U.S. supremacist government, whose secretary of state is a former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, will impassively watch as one of its main pawns slips away from it in the region, threatening a regional domino of new popular governments.
Likewise, it is unlikely that the oligopoly of hegemonic media in Argentina will remain mute and inactive in the face of the imminence of a progressive return to government. It is to be hoped that multiple journalistic, judicial and intelligence operations will try to prevent the opposition’s secure triumph. These operations could not only replicate in the media to the point of exhaustion the remaining but still effective conspiracy of “corruption” but also escalate to criminal edges. It is not possible to rule out any self attack – similar to the one that Bolsonaro supposedly suffered in the campaign in Brazil – against some of the official figures (including the president), false flag operations in the offensive field incriminating main opposition leaders, last-minute judicial assemblies or even the possibility of suspending the elections before some programmed violent event. There is no doubt that a campaign of fear of the change of government will replace the campaign of empty slogans of the “globolization” of joy.
All these possibilities must be taken into account, given the characteristics of a government that has proven to be prone to mafia practices.
However, the most probable thing is that even in the face of the social upheaval in the making and the cowardly attempt by the ruling party to avoid taking responsibility and blame the opposition’s triumph for it, the people will overcome all maneuvers and ratify the change of course in October in the first round. This broad victory will give the new government a solid backing, but at the same time it will constitute a stern commitment to respond in a short time to the pressing needs and demands of the population.
The Future Government
In their speeches and public appearances, both Alberto Fernandez and Cristina have made known the keys of what will be the future government. Among them, fundamentally will be the effort to recover the vitality of the internal market, to strengthen the industry and the small and medium local enterprises and with it, to make possible increasing incomes, work of quality and guarantee of social rights. A new “social contract” has been announced, in which the agreement of wage-earning and business sectors will be sought in order to reactivate the national economy. To this end, it will be essential, as the presidential candidate of the Frente de Todos anticipated, to stop the irrational speculative spiral to the benefit of the national and international banks.
Free medicines for retirees and pensioners, increased salaries, expansion of public education and health are central elements of the steps to be taken by the new government. In particular, Fernandez has pondered the expansion of university education as a way to make effective the possibility of social ascent of sectors sunk in poverty and marginalization. At the same time, the empowerment of the knowledge and research sector would make it possible to leave technological subordination behind, removing Argentina from the colonial condemnation of primarization and placing it in a space of scientific development in accordance with current times.
The proposals expressed not only refer to measures already taken in previous administrations, but also strengthen new aspects, certainly in a more than positive self-critical attempt to correct deficiencies. For example, the already announced participation in this government of the provincial governors shows a decentralization of power towards an effective federalism, so declaimed and so little practiced in a country controlled colonially from the main port city.
At the same time, the diversity of constituent forces of the Frente de Todos assures future bids but also a wealth of nuance in the public policies to be undertaken.
It is interesting to consider the contribution of the exponents of the new political generations in positions of municipal or legislative government, which augurs openness to new social scenarios such as, for example, the struggle to make gender parity effective at all levels and the advance of feminism in general.
In the international sphere, it is very likely that a government headed by Alberto and Cristina will assume positions of multilateral relations and will rely on the principles of self-determination and non-interference. In this way, together with Mexico, a new axis of progressive sovereign integration will begin to form, which will grow in parallel and in interaction with the group of nations gathered in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) to resist the attempts of hegemonic domination from the north.
The unrestricted defense of peace as a regional conquest and sovereignty against any attempt at aggression will undoubtedly be unrenounceable pillars of the new governmental period.
From this platform, we hope that the government will also address the need for a communicational democratization that allows for a real plurality of voices and a defense of social advances from media that are consubstantially linked to popular struggles.
Perhaps the idea of a public-community alliance will help to progressively deconcentrate power and give real and permanent participation to the social base in the construction of a new reality. A transforming reality that, as all previous experiences demonstrate, can only be sustained from an empowered critical mass of the popular sectors. In this way, the Frente de Todos will become the Government of Todos, opening the door to a new dawn.
Javier Tolcachier is a researcher at the Center for Humanist Studies in Córdoba, Argentina and a communicator at the international news agency Pressenza.