By Fabian Bosoer (for Safe Democracy)
The victory of Mauricio Macri as mayor of the City of Buenos Aires represents a new wave in Argentine politics and highlights the existence of a liberal, right-of-center lean, with more future than past.
Fabián Bosoer, Argentine political scientist and journalist, is the author of “Generales y embajadores. Una historia de las diplomacias paralelas en la Argentina” (Vergara, 2005).
He just published “Malvinas, capítulo final. Guerra y diplomacia en la Argentina” (Ed. Capital Intelectual-Claves para todos).
THE VICTORY OF MAURICIO MACRI Elected for the second time as head of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires (Mayor), he represents a third renewing wave for Argentine democracy and highlights the existence of a right-of-center, modern-liberal pole, with more future than past.
A unilateral political platform that comes pivoting in time with President Nestor Kirchner’s party, opens to the perspective of a bipolar dynamic, closer to those of other Latin American countries, like Chile, Uruguay and Brazil.
THE COMINGS-AND-GOINGS OF ARGENTINE POLITICS
Since the recuperation of the democracy in 1983, Argentina has delineated its political cycles to the rhythm of the electoral periods. Raul Alfonsin brought the renovation of radicalism and from there he has had to pilot this period as president and central figure in the political process from 1983 until reaching its height in 1987, exactly twenty years ago, along with the triumph of a Peronist renovation, led by Antonio Cafiero, Jose Manuel de la Sota and Carlos Menem, among others. The renewed radicalism and the renewing Peronism built, as such, the improved bipartisanship that accompanied the transition. The first change of government, from Alfonsin to Menem in 1989 was traumatic, but at the same time signified the first peaceful alternation of power between two principle political forces in the country’s entire contemporary history.
It fell on Menemism to lead the way into the 90’s and was –in its own manner– the answer Argentina gave for the challenges of the State crisis and globalization. Until saturating its energies (and those of society) toward 1997, just 10 years ago today, with the triumph of the Frepaso, a center-leftist force at the hand of Chacho Alvarez and Graciela Fernandez Meijide. That is when the alliance between the Radical Civic Union and the Frepaso began to show itself, in which hand the country could look to leave from the 90’s. This produced another power change, in 1999 until the disgrace at the end of 2001, the resignation of Fernando De la Rua and the salvaging period of Eduardo Duhalde.
The government of Nestor Kirchner, which is moving closer to the culmination of its 4-year mandate, is the child of that immense crisis of 2001 that swept the preceding political system, and father of the economic recuperation and social re-composition that have taken place since then. As product of those circumstances of the original crisis, the so-called Kirchnerism opened the path to fragmentation and political expansion of Peronism and radicalism. It ran alone, without a political opposition at the height of the challenges at the time. Democracy recuperated its vitality, but as in the first years of Alfonsin and those of Menem, it depended on a machine with just one motor.
A NEW CHAPTER IN DEMOCRATIC LEARNING
The ascent of Macri in Buenos Aires, like that of Cafiero in the Bonaire province in 1987, like that of Chacho Alvarez and Graciela in the legislative elections of 1997, represents a third renewing wave, which in this case has landed in the hands of the center-right.
Macri, a 48-year-old businessman and president of the soccer club Boca Juniors, opens a window of opportunity so that sector of the political spectrum can install itself as an alternating force, without vices and problematic legacies from its predecessors. Like Peronism, radicalism and the center-left did until their air and gas ran out on those successive turns.
The democratic right did not express these characteristics until now: they did not finish the troops of the UCD, the party created by veteran liberal-conservative leader Alvaro Alsogaray in the in the 80’s, and the fixed force in the 90’s by the ex Minister of Economy, Domingo Cavallo, Action for the Republic, of which now few people remember, not even of the most recent version, the Recreate Party, also of ex Minister, Ricardo Lopez Murphy. The RPO (Republican Proposal), founded by Macri and his people in 2000, is that political lineage to which an able communication strategy for the young and independent sectors has been added.
This doesn’t mean that today there needs to be a prediction made that the emerging Macrismo set to govern the Argentine capital beginning next December will not have luck similar to the others, nor can its projection of national leadership be anticipated. Simply, it is another chapter in the democratic learning of trial and error, an example of the law of the pendulum that defines competitive democracies.
THE BIPOLARITY, A GOOD SIGN
For a country with a hyper-presidential tradition, whose strength (the concentration of presidential power) is found at the same time as one of the principle weaknesses, the conformation of two big potential coalitions in conditions of dispute over power (one left-of-center and the other center-right) is still good news.
It gives hope for those unhappy and opposing of the government of Nestor Kirchner and alleviates the pressure on the backs of Kirchner and his wife, the senator and virtual candidate Cristina Fernandez, who continue at the top of the preferences for the upcoming presidential elections in October.
It’s always the same with transitions: the new never stops coming and the old never leaves.