December 18, 2013
If yesterday’s editorial stressed that the presidential illness demolished any bid to pervert these midterm elections into a plebiscite, the campaign coverage seems to have gone to the other extreme and turned a traffic fine from several months ago into the focus of political debate (not for the first time since some weeks ago a parking offence by AFSCA media watchdog Martín Sabbatella prompted half a page in the newspaper most at odds with him). It is not especially the purpose of today’s commentary to join this debate — Victory Front candidate Juan Cabandié could be guilty of an abuse of authority as widely depicted (the incriminating video is not free from a bullying tone, whatever the true facts of the matter) or somebody might have decided that the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone was too good to miss (two birds because the misdemeanour of the ruling party’s top City candidate allegedly led to a traffic warden being fired by the municipality of the ruling party’s top Buenos Aires province candidate, namely Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde). That somebody would logically come from the opposition although not necessarily — especially with the various Peronist factions currently lacking presidential co-ordination —but it is not our aim to deepen a discussion which only diverts attention from the true problems.
If campaign coverage insists on the politics of scandal rather than the real issues, then it could at least focus on more recent episodes (from last weekend) where people were actually killed — for example, the Victory Front activist slain in Vicente López over the weekend when a clash with supporters of Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa over sticking up posters degenerated into crossfire or the two children who perished in a Boca neighbourhood tenement blaze (which might have been a tragic accident but might also have been an extreme form of slum clearance in the interests of real estate speculation). Yet although these incidents are vastly more serious than an arrogant candidate, they do not form the basis for any genuine campaign agenda either.
Instead the citizenry is concerned about many more crimes than Cabandié’s traffic offence, the possible Boca arson or even the Vicente López shootout and they are also concerned about many more issues than crime — inflation, the energy shortfall, currency curbs, etc. On the basis of the August primary results and most opinion polls, a majority of Argentines seem to see the government as the problem without viewing the opposition as any solution.