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Friday, January 28, 2022

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Argentines decide whether to extend support to President Alberto Fernández or cause him a great setback in Congress

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This Sunday are the legislative elections in the South American country.

After two years in power, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, lives his first major electoral test in the legislative elections this Sunday, in which he could lose the majority in Congress.

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A total of 34.3 million voters are entitled to go to the polls in these legislative elections, which will renew 127 of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 24 of the 72 seats in the Senate. In Argentina, voting is compulsory for citizens aged 18 to 69 and optional for young people aged 16 and 17 and those aged 70 or over.

Mariano Riorda, Argentine political scientist and president of the Commission of the Latin American Association of Researchers in Electoral Campaigns, comments that, if the results of the primaries are repeated, there will be a divided government with less maneuverability, which can put the president in check.

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“Faced with the weakness in public opinion of the Government of Alberto Fernández, with an aggravated negativity (more than two parts of negativity for one of positivity) and an overwhelming disagreement with the country’s direction, adds the internal weakness within the government coalition. This, added to a structural economic crisis that the country has been dragging on and that deepened on the occasion of the pandemic ”, points out Riorda.

In the primaries of last September, which served to elect the candidates for deputies and senators, the opposition coalition of Together for Change obtained more than 40% of the votes throughout the country, while the ruling Front of All reaped little more 30%. In the event that these results are repeated, the ruling party would lose its own quorum in the Senate and could reduce its presence in Deputies to practically remain in numerical equality or, even, below the block of the first, remember EFE.

Eugenia Mitchelstein, associate professor at the University of San Andrés, comments that “if the ruling party loses control of the Deputies and the Senate, it will have to give in to some of the opposition’s agenda items.” Although he mentions that, despite the probable victory of the opposition in these mid-term legislatures, the result is not defined.

She adds that there is discontent in the public and that has already caused participation in the primaries to be low, but the expectation is that it will increase for this Sunday.

Argentine political analyst Sergio Berenzstein also believes that the most likely scenario is the victory of the opposition, although he points out that there is caution because polls in recent years no longer allow precision. Of course, more people are expected to vote than in the primaries, but there is no evidence so far that this flow overturns the result in favor of the ruling party, the one most affected by absenteeism.

“If the forecasts are fulfilled, President Fernández will have a significant setback that would show a further weakening in the governing coalition, which is heterogeneous; there is likely to be a new balance within it. And see what happens, mainly, with Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is the one who ideologically skews the profile of the Government towards a traditional Latin American left-wing populist stance, ”according to Berenzstein, who adds that this is something to take into account in the scenario of economic crisis in Argentina, which has been stagnant since 2011.

“Besides, we have a negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (of the loan of 45,000 million dollars made during the presidency of Mauricio Macri, 2015-2019) which implies that a stabilization program must soon be presented … with high inflation and few reserves as a result of the mistrust that exists and a bad investment climate. A major shift in economic policy is needed and that requires a high level of pragmatism. Therefore, it is necessary to see if the president is going to have the resilience, the energy, the capacity, the president in particular and the Government in general, to reinvent himself after this defeat ”.

There is great fatigue and pessimism in the population due to the long crisis, the pandemic and how everything worsened; there is an immigration of young people and more than 50,000 left in the last year from a country that offers few opportunities, with a large and ineffective State. “There is no antipolitical wave like 20 years ago, but there is like a disconnect between the political agenda and the agenda of society,” says Berenzstein, for whom a critical panorama opens on Monday and it will be necessary to see how the political class solves it .

All this in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, which caused the already endless crisis, which the last three governments (Fernández de Kirchner, Macri and Fernández) have not been able to overcome, to deepen and put its population in trouble. (I)

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