Global Independent Analytics
Enric Ravello Barber
Enric Ravello Barber

Location: Spain

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

MAURICIO MACRI OPENS A NEW ERA IN ARGENTINA’S POLITICS

Elections, results and prospects of Argentina

51.4% for Mauricio Macri, 48.6% for Cristina Kirchner. This was the result after the first round of the Argentinian presidential elections, but no previous poll was able to predict it just a few months ago. No one dared to declare their voting intentions to polling agencies, for fear of being "marked," if this information was revealed to government agents. Nevertheless, the candidate of the liberal right beat the candidate of the populist-left version of Peronism.

The results gave a victory to Macri, also because he was able to win in the Province of Buenos Aires, the traditional stronghold of Peronism and the strong rock of Argentina’s left. In the city of Buenos Aires Macri had already won a long time ago, becoming Mayor of the capital of Argentina in 2007. In the province of Cordoba (central Argentina), one of the most important regions for its agricultural production, Macri got more than 70% of the votes; the agricultural sector had been heavily punished with taxes by the government of Cristina Kirchner. To many experts this has been the error that prevented Argentina from having massive economic growth during the past five years. If there was an economic sector facing “kircherism,” that was the agricultural sector.

PRO a political party made to Macri

Mauricio Macri is the son of a famous and successful businessman, Franco Macri, an Italian born in Rome in 1930, who emigrated to Argentina in 1949 and got the Argentinian nationality in 1951, like many other Italians who came to Argentina at that time and whose sons and grandchildren are a fundamental part of Argentinian society.[1]   Macri belongs to the economic elite and has been educated in this elitist environment. His entry into politics was possible due to a good job done by image consultants, who changed his image to make it appear less "elitist," and also knew how to use his good physical appearance to make an accessible and friendly image.

After graduating as a civil engineer, Macri began his public life by being elected president of the famous football club Boca Juniors. Boca Juniors is the club of Argentina's most popular classes. In the beginning it was of Italian immigrants, hence it is called the "xeneize”[2] team.  His good leadership of the Boca Juniors helped him to achieve significant support among the popular classes, and take a significant amount of votes among people who usually vote for Peronism.

As president of Boca Juniors, and taking advantage of its popularity, Macri decided to run for mayor of Buenos Aires, with the party he had formed in 2005, PRO (Republican Proposal), a party of liberal Right that came to end the political hegemony of the two traditional Argentinian parties: The Peronist Party, known in Argentina as the Justicialist Party[3]:  Peronism in its broadest spectrum, with internal nuances ranging from right to left, but always in a nationalist, protectionist and anti-liberal way. And the Radical Civic Union (UCR),[4]  a moderate center-left party, that has been in deep decline since the presidency of Raul Alfonsin and Fernando de la Rua. UCR supported Macri against their traditional enemies, the  Peronist Party, in the recent elections.

Changes and Challenges

After assuming power in a Presidential ceremony last December 10, a ceremony that Cristina Kirchner refused to attend and asked to boycott, Macri began his mandate with several key challenges that he has to face immediately:

1. Internally: the tough opposition that Cristina Kirchner and the powerful Peronist Unions "had promised" against him.

2. Economically: Macri started quickly with measures to control the price of the Peso. He also ended the high rates of export tariffs of agricultural products, which will undoubtedly boost the economy. But there is a danger that Macri go too far with the "neo-liberalism" and fall into errors, as the disastrous government of Menem did.

3. Reform of the judiciary, which may end putting to trial several members of the former government for corruption, perhaps even Cristina Kirchner herself.

Macri will have to take into account and reconsider the great social benefits, sometimes in exchange for votes - that Kirchner made in recent years to lower social classes, which is one of the reasons why Argentina’s coffers are empty.  Macri's government will have to maintain some sort of social assistance to avoid facing revolts very soon.

4. Foreign policy:  Macri already came into conflict with the former Argentinian ally - Venezuela, and has committed to normalizing relations with Western countries, especially the US and UK.  At the same time he will have to try to maintain good relations with important countries for Argentina today such as Russia and China.

Macri knows he has to act fast and not let the Argentines who voted for him demand immediate changes to the previous chaotic situation, but also act with prudence to avoid arousing the wrath of the Peronist unions and lower classes. In addition Macri knows that Peronism (not in its “kirchnerist” version) is "emotionally" the majority in Argentina. So he needs not only to move fast, but to do it correctly and successfully as well.

 


[1] There are more Italian than Spanish surnames in Argentina nowadays.

[2] Xena is the name of Genoa in Ligurian dialect, “xeneize” means “from Genoa”

[3] Partido Justicialista.

[4] Unión Cívica Radical in Spanish.

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