May 20, 2013
Two sides of the same coin
By Michael Soltys
Buenos Aires Herald Senior Editor
Perhaps the basic problem of contemporary Argentine politics is that it lacks the third leg of that famous triad of thesis, antithesis and synthesis supposedly underlying Hegelian dialectic (President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s favourite philosopher in a more pretentious and less populist phase a few years back) — the current “re-re-election” buzz has turned into such an either/or proposition that opposition almost always comes unaccompanied by any constructive alternative. And how can we expect the opposition not to take this easy way out when resisting a third term for CFK magically unites them whereas the task of constructing an alternative would require harmonizing visions ranging from left to right of an extremely fragmented spectrum (not to mention agreeing on a candidate)? Indeed the apparent polarization of indefinite presidential election in many ways conceals a tacit complicity — the Peronists can thus defer a problem of succession which they have never been able to solve while the opposition cloaks a complete lack of strategy.
One specific recent example of this complicity at work — last Thursday’s picket blockade on the Panamerican Highway causing tailbacks of over 15 kilometres. Strangely enough, both national Security Secretary Sergio Berni (with the grandiose and almost militaristic deployment of some 500 Border Guards) and certain opposition media were at pains to politicize this protest, hinting at the instigation of nearby dissident Peronist Malvinas Argentinas Mayor Jesús Cariglino in the former case and attributing the problem to the national government’s alleged exclusion of Cariglino’s district from work plans in the latter. But the protest seems to have been the usual picket activity by far left groupings.
Two final comments on the deficiencies of the opposition. Firstly, the most fervent and articulate criticism of the government all too often comes from ex-members of the Kirchner administrations rather than the opposition as such. Secondly, with regard to the bill to reduce the voting age to 16 (widely assumed to be an opportunistic bid to tap a pro-government youth vote), why is rebellious youth generally presumed to be on the government’s side in the first place? In this sense the fast-rising La Cámpora runs counter to the usual role of the young in politics — such ginger youth groups are supposed to be a party’s conscience and future against the entrenched bureaucracy of the machine, not a short cut into that bureaucracy. No synthesis or even antithesis but just a very non-dialectical thesis.