Argentina Sunday’s mid term elections results are not promising for the Kirchner ruling couple. Public opinion polls indicate that the “K” magic of the strong sustained recovery years is over, and the electorate does not agree with the aggressive confrontational style particularly of former president Nestor Kirchner, undoubtedly the “strong man” of Argentina and the “chief” of the hegemonic Peronist movement that has dominated the country’s politics for the last six decades.
Analysts anticipate that the Kirchners will be defeated in the principal provinces and will experience a serious challenge in the main turf for whoever dominates the Peronist movement, the rust belt of the province of Buenos Aires, which represents at least 35% of the country’s electoral role and is therefore crucial for any political dispute.
That is why Mr. Kirchner and his immediate political cronies have decided to run in the province of Buenos Aires to ensure that predicament and those much needed votes.
But Peronist local leaders, experts in the art of survival, can also smell and anticipate change, looking ahead into the future. So the solid province of Buenos Aires and its 135 most faithful counties, maybe is not that solid “K”, in spite of the federal checks, and this forecasts inevitably that Mr. Kirchner and his wife-President will be exposed to a no longer submissive Congress.
The new Congress can be expected to question much of the post 2001/02 crisis special legislation powers which has enabled the couple to rule and dispose of the budget more liberally than with a legislature complying with its main role of controlling the Executive.
Furthermore Sunday’s election results will be interpreted by the faithful Peronists as a primary for the 2011 presidential election. The budding chiefs and presidential hopefuls who will dispute the Kirchners position will emerge strongly with a new scenario.
Opinion polls in the province of Buenos Aires indicate that Mr. Kirchner list for the Lower House and which he heads is possibly 2 to 3 points behind, (in the low thirties) with an error margin of plus/minus 2.5 points. However the dissident conservative Peronist De Narvaez has been steadily ascending while Mr. Kirchner had long reached, on his present tactics, his roof. He further complicated the dispute by polarizing with Mr. De Narvaez, instead of helping the third (non Peronist) grouping force which could suck votes from his rival.
Therefore: if results confirm forecasts, at government level Congress will cease to be a “K” rubber stamp and alliances will have to be worked out while the whole system of patronizing with budget surpluses will begin to die.
How the confrontational Mr Kirchner (and his bi-polar wife) will react or blame, is not known. Last year when the couple lost a crucial Congressional vote in the dispute with farmers it was rumoured by different sources she was thinking of resigning.
The Peronist party new budding presidential hopefuls will certainly question Mr. Kirchner’s party leadership and his lame duck syndrome. But the internal competition can’t be too divisive because the overall Argentine government is weak and full of time bombs accumulated during years when the prices-system was ignored or swept under the carpet.
However, the winning Peronists will have to understand that most votes will be against the Kirchners and not necessarily because they admire or see in Mr. De Narvaez the redeeming messiah. Moreover Argentina is internationally isolated both politically and financially or has been mingling with the wrong characters.
Finally if Mr. Kirchner manages a 30% vote, which is ten points less than October 2007, when he had his wife Cristina elected president, if the opposition and its 60% do not act with a minimum sense of unity and support for the institutions and the elected Executive (no matter who holds the post), they could be still manipulated by the current chief.
For the always politically turbulent Argentina and its hegemonic Peronist movement another challenge: however this time with a global economy in recession but still avid of the former world bread basket commodities.