December 6, 2013
Miles away from a league
Ever since the clock started ticking for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s lame-duck period after last month’s primaries, a vacuum for at least some power-sharing yawned but that vacuum is not so easily filled. Many pundits seem to seek the answers by referring back to the aftermath of the last time that a decade-long period of political domination ended in Argentina. Today’s atomized opposition does not permit any comparisons with the 1999-2001 Alliance government which followed the 1989-1999 Carlos Menem presidency — the Alliance was a relatively tidy coalition between two forces, the Radicals and Frepaso, with the capacity both to win an election and form a government although not to serve out its mandate. But such pundits might find more leverage from referring to the league of Peronist governors emerging from the turbulence of late 2001, placing at least two presidents from the ranks of the current and former provincial government heads of those times — Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (San Luis) and Eduardo Duhalde (Buenos Aires). Especially since Peronist governors huddled on the last day of August in Corrientes, which will be holding its provincial elections today.
That well-attended meeting has been contrasted with the mere half-dozen governors showing up for the social dialogue in Técnopolis last Wednesday, thus suggesting that Peronist governors are cutting loose from CFK. This may not be a valid conclusion — these governors are fully entitled to give priority to what is shaping up as an extremely difficult election campaign almost everywhere (and perhaps it is time to start challenging the notion that the place of a governor or minister is applauding a lengthy presidential speech rather than at their desks attending to their many responsibilities). Yet even if the Corrientes huddle deserves to be seen as the seed of a governors’ league, it would have a long way to go. For a start ultra-Kirchnerites like Sergio Urribarri (Entre Ríos) and Jorge Capitanich (Chaco) are clearly not on the same page as the fiercely critical José Manuel de la Sota (Córdoba). But perhaps the premier governor, Daniel Scioli of Buenos Aires, is in the most confused position — with ultra-Kirchnerites and the hosts of Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa alike willing his downfall, he seems unsure whether he gains most against Massa from loyalty to or distance from CFK. Playing the mayoral card by making Ezeiza Mayor Alejandro Granados security minister does not end these dilemmas.
CFK is widely criticized for not accepting her lame-duck status but that could be a dangerous luxury until some real alternatives appear.