December 7, 2013
Discreet ceremony, great anniversary
Amid all the excitement surrounding last Sunday’s midterm elections and Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Broadcasting Law, it would be all too easy to let yesterday’s 30th anniversary of the return of democracy slip by without comment. The more so, perhaps, because it was not the formal occasion (the presidential inauguration of Raúl Alfonsín on December 10, 1983, officially bringing military dictatorship to an end) but rather the 30th anniversary of the return to free elections, which are the essence of democracy. This anniversary was duly honoured not so much by yesterday’s discreet ceremonies held by Alfonsín’s Radical Party or the national government as by Sunday’s voting which fully illustrates the continuing vigour of democracy. These elections unfolded without fear or favour or the slightest suspicion of fraud to question the result. And despite the continuing atomization of political parties, these elections contributed to not only freedom but also stability — whatever the political vicissitudes of the next two years, the electorate has equipped the new Congress with both an overall majority and quorum.
Last Sunday’s voting also evokes yesterday’s anniversary because of its big winner, Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa — among the reasons for his success we should not underestimate his freedom from historical baggage because of his extreme youth (there are only 15 months of overlap between his life and Juan Domingo Perón’s). A style free from Argentina’s pervasive obsessions with its past is refreshing in many ways but ignoring history also has its risks. Such a political animal as Massa might usefully contrast the million-strong downtown rallies of both Radicals and Peronists in the final campaign week 30 Octobers ago with today’s vastly reduced involvement (technology might well be one explanation of the difference). The errors of the last three decades remain useful lessons for today — inflation was a problem from the start while the rail disasters of the last two years have their roots in a neglect both throughout and preceding the period since 1983. All of this without going into human rights, which we will reserve for December 10 as International Human Rights Day.
In a word, an anniversary well worth pondering.