December 6, 2013
The Congress we deserve?
When the PASO nationwide primary system was first presented to Congress in 2010, the idea was to revive the solid party system so signally lacking since 2010 — now that the second such primaries have been duly held with the campaign for the October 27 midterm elections well and truly underway, what do we find? Instead of well-defined parties presenting comprehensive manifestoes with serious legislative proposals, we have various motley crews headed (at least in Buenos Aires province, the race commanding the most attention) by mayors who seem to have risen above their level of competence and are busy chasing the opinion polls. Yesterday’s editorial discussed the wild improvisations of Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde, the Victory Front’s leading candidate, over the crime issue and the divisions this has sown within Kirchnerism (whose political solidity actually seems to be regressing, despite years of being cemented by control of the state machinery). But if we look at Insaurralde’s main rival, Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa and his Renewal Front, both the political cohesion and the legislative maturity are arguably worse.
Insistently riding the public indignation over crime long before Insaurralde, Massa has now jumped onto “the other insecurity” (i.e. the inflation which also features so prominently among opinion poll grievances) and is proposing reform of the INDEC statistics bureau but instead of any creative initiative, he is merely proposing a law which is already there — we can probably be forgiven if we have lost track of how many bills to reform INDEC have been submitted in the last six years, securing Lower House approval at least once (not to mention the government theoretically accepting international pressure in this direction and talking of a nationwide index by the end of the month, the latest deadline). In a word, media-oriented marketing with an eye to the opinion polls rather than serious legislation by a political grouping which is shaping up to be a major parliamentary force. And how cohesive a parliamentary caucus? Examples of the cracks beneath the surface exceed this space — suffice it to mention here the growing distance between Massa and two anti-Kirchnerite heavyweights, Córdoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota and City Mayor Mauricio Macri (despite the latter having three names on Massa’s list).
If the electorate fails to recall that these are legislative elections above all, judging candidates on their parliamentary merits, then there is such a thing as people getting the Congresses as well as governments they deserve.