December 5, 2013
Limping to the finish line
We are now in the middle of the closing week before Sunday’s midterm elections and yet not one single item of campaign activity managed to find its way into the front pages of yesterday’s newspapers — a telling comment against lacklustre candidates even if the final rallies have yet to be held. Shocking as last weekend’s train derailment was, its merciful lack of fatalities does not give it the catastrophic dimensions to justify this total blackout of political news. But none of this month’s shocks have sufficed to jolt the general apathy — the presidential illness promised a massive sympathy vote while the arrogance of City ruling party candidate Juan Cabandié threatened a substantial backlash but neither seem to have shifted the opinion polls by more than a few percent.
Both the politicians and the electorate appear to have reached a tacit agreement not to turn Sunday’s election into any watershed. Most politicians seem to regard the upcoming vote as not much more than a second chapter of the August PASO primaries (which might well turn out to be the real defining moment for current voting patterns, just like in 2011), a glorified dress rehearsal for the 2015 presidential elections — and not even that on the ruling party side since its highest-profile candidate, Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde, is not among the 2015 presidential pack. Opposition candidates are only too ready to criticize the various economic imbalances accumulated over the last decade, the crime wave, the flawed public investment decisions contributing to last weekend’s rail disaster and any number of issues but nobody seems willing to volunteer the solutions inevitably involving tough action ahead of the vote (especially with any real crisis yet to arrive). Meanwhile, moving in that mysterious way which is so often the magic of democracy, the electorate seems to have somehow collectively worked out voting percentages which will rule out any third term for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner while permitting her to retain enough of her current power to govern in her last two years and they will not budge from those percentages without very good reason.
Campaign trends have changed dramatically before in the closing days and the closing rallies — one need only think back to 1983 when the current 30-year run of continuous democratic elections began — but almost everybody seems to be already looking beyond this upcoming Sunday.