September 16, 2014
Fronts can be fronts
Since a leading newspaper chose to make “Advances in a progressive front opposing the government” the main headline for its last edition of 2013, this topic (referring to an opposition huddle in Rosario last week endorsed by such a cross-country cross-section of heavyweights as Hermes Binner, Ernesto Sanz, Julio Cobos, Elisa Carrió, Margarita Stolbizer, Luis Juez, etc.) perhaps warrants some editorial analysis.
A key question here is how much has been learned from the opposition triumph in the 2009 midterm elections — a victory which was to prove traumatic for the opposition spectrum from the way the wheels subsequently came off. In particular, the Socialist-Radical-Civic Coalition sector ended up falling victim to its lack of leadership, infighting and U-turns eroding the image of certain leaders. The economic recovery of the bicentennial year 2010, the impact of Néstor Kirchner’s death and emblematic legislation appealing to leftwing idealism (AUH child benefits, same-sex marriage and the Broadcasting Law) gave the ruling party the necessary oxygen to win a totally lopsided contest in 2011. But regardless of whether or not such a spectacular Kirchnerite comeback can be repeated (which seems difficult or even impossible today), the Radicals and Socialists are obliged to get their act together and resolve their own inconsistencies. Thus when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the media law just two days after another favourable midterm result for the opposition last October, the opposition conglomerate known as UNEN in this capital and the Broad Progressive Front elsewhere showed some leaders vowing to impeach the Court and others arguing that the time had come to obey the law. And they are at loggerheads over other basic issues — whom to tax, how to attract capital, where to draw the line over corruption, whether to nationalize, privatize or expropriate, etc. Even that “progressive” label which was the common denominator for so many of these leaders would not be to the liking of at least two of them — Cobos and Carrió, who stopped identifying herself as “centre-left” a while ago.
The top priority for the opposition is to find clear definitions and avoid confusing the population, even at the risk of not pandering to their tastes and displeasing the media groups spearheading anti-Kirchnerism. The next step is to draw a line in the sand — not all leaders approaching this space should be accepted and, partly as a consequence of the former, a leadership should be established. Politics is all about self-help and do-it-yourself.