May 23, 2013
A picture (or photograph) is worth 1,000 words, they say, but sometimes its value can be highly relative — the photo of Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and City Mayor Mauricio Macri together at a garbage recycling plant on Thursday is certainly a case in point. Any dreams of a major rival alliance to the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration in the making need to be measured against the last time Macri co-starred in a politically loaded photo — his amiable huddle last October with dissident CGT leader Hugo Moyano, which was followed in the very same week by Moyano’s CGT and Macri’s PRO centre-right party manning opposing trenches during the parliamentary voting on ART industrial accident legislation reforms. Similarly, Scioli and Macri have conflicting interests — not least, over the problem of where to dump metropolitan garbage which brought them together on Thursday and, certainly not least, over 2015 presidential candidacies. Their potential for alliance hinges directly on how seriously they take the prospect of CFK’s perpetuation in power —if this is perceived as a clear and present danger, they will be far more inclined to differentiate themselves from the ruling party than from each other but if a third CFK term is seen as dead in the water, their rival aspirations should prevail.
Not that either Macri or Scioli have all the time in the world to scheme their 2015 presidential ambitions — both need to watch their backs on home turf. If Argentina’s tax burden is higher than ever, both men have some share of the responsibility (and blame). City Hall’s recent increase of ABL property rates is widely seen as somewhat more than updating them to inflation with the ABL levy doubled in some cases (especially in neighbourhoods most staunchly supporting Macri) — last year Scioli’s “reassessment” of rural property taxation sparked a virtual farm rebellion (complete with protest marches and sales boycotts) in the month before the midyear bonus crisis which exposed Buenos Aires province’s fiscal vulnerability. Both have problems crossing the somewhat artificial boundary between the Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires such as crime, garbage and flash flooding to name a few — both have exposed flanks on the labour front (especially teachers in Buenos Aires province and the unruly trade unions of the newly municipal Subte underground).
Yet perhaps the main asset of a struggling CFK administration continues to be the dearth of credible alternatives — something not supplied by a photograph, even when worth 1,000 words.