A pollster looks at the amount of unsuccessful attempts at telephone inquiries to potential respondents and also a report on the reluctance of ordinary people to welcome survey takers into their homes. “It seems to me that something that happens in society I am not registering,” he concludes. In this context of a society mostly closed in on itself, the government’s campaign is without leadership. No other administration, Peronist or non-Peronist, was ever so charged with freethinkers willing to play their own games. Rare in Kirchnerism, because in times of Néstor or Cristina Kirchner were the ones who personally controlled the electoral campaigns. Too Mauricio Macri, Raúl Alfonsín or Carlos Menem they exercised personal control over the speech, actions and statements of their candidates and leaders on the eve of elections. Alberto Fernández, an old specialist in electoral campaigns, leaves the microphone open to his officials and candidates so that they can display their ideas according to the best of each one’s knowledge and understanding. Pure dynamite at the ballot box.
The government is not doing well, even in these surveys with very relative results due to the small number of Argentines who undergo them. The President lost between 5 and 10 points (It depends on whether management or image is measured) since the Olivos photo scandal broke out. “The bullets came in,” says an official with daily access to the Chief Executive when he refers to the Olivosgate. Strictly speaking, no member of the Government denies that this scandal represented a turning point in the presidential administration.
But the event occurred more than a year ago (in July 2020), although the photo emerged recently. The new problem is that Statements from officials and candidates that seem to have been made by the opposition were added to it so that the Government falls into the trap. The President himself was dramatically unpolitical when he came out to support the teacher Laura Radetich, from the Eva Perón School, in Ciudad Evita, in La Matanza predictable. Radetich not only said what he said violently before high school students. It is much worse what he wrote in his tweets, which do not already have the impact of a crazy scene timely filmed by a student. He speculated with a neutron bomb in Córdoba, because the people of Cordoba mostly vote for Macrismo. Or he slipped that the best political solution was a “dead” Macri. No one warned the President about that teacher’s violent record, and he didn’t have the prudence to find out who it was before offering his endorsement. Society analysts point out that not even the Peronists want their children to be indoctrinated in schools. The President’s mistake was enormous, although one looks at the electoral moment in which he committed it.
Sabina Frederic, Minister of Security, toyed with the comparison between Argentina and Switzerland. “Switzerland is quieter, but more boring,” he said, as if he were joking over coffee chat. He had the worst reply from his own political space. Sergio Berni, the untouchable Buenos Aires Minister of Security, immediately met him: “He thinks we’re screwed. The security of the suburbs is the onanism of the intellectuals, ”said the Buenos Aires minister. Berni has the personal protection of Cristina Kirchner. He says and does what he wants. Still there. It cannot fail to be recognized that Berni sometimes puts a bit of common sense into the ruling party when it drifts with insecurity. Berni is right: how can we tell those who suffer and fear insecurity in the suburbs that Argentina is more fun than Switzerland? Why does Frederic have the microphone open for the President at election time? She thinks like she thinks and will not change now. Didn’t anyone tell the minister that she should keep quiet about security issues at election time? Doesn’t the President remember, perhaps, that Néstor Kirchner, Daniel Scioli and Sergio Massa lost together in the province of Buenos Aires against Francisco de Narváez because he raised the flag of security? It was in 2009. It did not take so long and the problem was not resolved.
The province of Buenos Aires is an unpredictable territory. There, Kirchnerism lost all the midterm elections, except those of 2005. It was defeated in 2009, in 2013 and in 2017. In two of them, those of 2009 and 2017, the defeat was suffered in their own flesh by the founders of the Kirchnerism: Néstor and Cristina Kirchner were the candidates who topped the losing lists in those years. “Cristina knows that if the Frente de Todos won in the primaries by just 4 or 5 points, it could lose the generals in November,” says someone who frequents her. It already happened in 2015 with Anibal Fernandez in Buenos Aires and with Scioli in the country. The two won by few points in the primaries. The two ended up losing the generals. Why would they lose now? Even the Cristinistas predict that in the face of a bad result in the primaries, even winning, it will be Cristina Kirchner who will lead the campaign, definitely disappointed in the politician who led the presidency. Bad signal. The former president continues to have very significant levels of social rejection. Many of those who would not vote in the primaries would vote in the general elections, just to vote against it.. It already happened. It would not be a novelty.
Victoria Tolosa Paz decided to talk about the sex of the Peronists. It may be that he did it consciously. It is explained: the result is meager when the pollsters measure her alone, especially since Buenos Aires do not know who she is or what she did to be there. Another thing, much better, happens when they measure it in the company of Cristina Kirchner, Alberto Fernández and Axel Kicillof. It turns out, however, that on election day your ballot will be in the dark room without Cristina, Alberto and Kicillof. But public speaking about sexuality, and with the words he used, the brutal distance from the middle class and the lower class, sometimes more conservative than the middle sectors. Who told Tolosa Paz that he could have his own initiative, without consulting anyone, in the crucial electoral campaign of these days? Didn’t you think it convenient that your disruptive ideas deserved a conversation with the leader who placed you as the first Buenos Aires candidate, the President himself? Or does it happen, perhaps, that nobody recognizes a leader in the ruling party? For worse, the President came out to support her too, albeit elliptically, without naming her and without mentioning Tolosa Paz’s sexual description of the Peronists. The President has lost his electoral reflexes.
Anyway, the fact these days that could have worse future consequences is the diplomatic scuffle of the Argentine government with Chile for the delimitation of the continental ice. First observation: the two governments are in the middle of electoral processes and neither of them is doing well. In Chile there will be presidential elections in November. In that same month, ten days before, the mid-term general elections will be held in Argentina. Nationalism is the last refuge of governments that fear losing. Did the government of Sebastián Piñera violate the peace accords of 1988 and 1999? Surely yes. The solution, however, is not to further strain the relationship or threaten to appeal to the International Court in The Hague. One of the few victories for Argentine democracy has been peace with Chile and the creation of Mercosur. Both things ensured a peaceful zone in South America in a world too tempted to successive wars elsewhere. Igniting the nationalist impetus of societies at electoral moments is an old, worn-out and, fundamentally, wrong remedy. A remedy that could have long sequelae and that could also deeply penetrate common people on both sides of the Andes.
The path of bilateral negotiation is open. The government of Alberto Fernández has as its ambassador in Chile: Rafael Bielsa, with long experience in diplomatic negotiations and predisposed to build bridges of conciliation. The Chilean ambassador in Buenos Aires is Manuel Gormaz Lira, a diplomat with an extensive career in the foreign service. He even had other destinations in Argentina before being ambassador. Why should we go to The Hague, as the Government anticipates, before exhausting the path of peaceful dialogue that the Alfonsín and Menem administrations successfully practiced? Alfonsín reached an agreement (with Pinochet no less) for the Beagle Channel, after mediation by the Vatican. Menem resolved the 25 remaining border disputes between the two countries. Argentina and Chile were on the threshold of an absurd war when the military ruled both nations. Democracy restored peace. Elections in the two countries cannot (or should not) provoke a regression of such progress. The Argentine president should take a few minutes of reflection before deciding on the dispute with Chile. The relationship with the country with which Argentina shares its longest border is much more important than the loss of a deranged teacher. It is more important than the disturbing and likely results of a legislative election.