September 17, 2014
Poster over posterity
The news that malicious posters have been plastered across this city calling on two rival presidential hopefuls — Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and the rebel Peronist lawmaker Sergio Massa — to run “together’’ should be anecdotal. But what is striking is that this kind of foul play usually happens with only a few days to go before the presidential election, and the nation is scheduled to vote for a new head of state in 2015. The posters carry the name of former caretaker president Eduardo Duhalde, the old Peronist party kingmaker, who has denied any responsibility in the publicity stunt and has said that it is designed to hurt both Scioli, a moderate Kirchnerite, and Massa, a Peronist now in the opposition. Yet Duhalde, after years of keeping his lips sealed after a disappointing presidential bid in 2011, has been publicly preaching that the Peronist party will be defeated next year if Scioli and Massa face each other in a presidential showdown. Duhalde, following the debacle of 2011, is no longer a competitive presidential contender. But it seems that he is having a difficult time understanding that it is highly unlikely that he is still a kingmaker (even when he has confessed that he hasn’t spoken with Scioli and Massa directly for a long time).
Duhalde’s public statements would be as anecdotal as those posters were it not for the sensation that the nation’s political elite in its entirety is playing the game of electioneering in a year that is not an electoral one. Each week brings new jockeying for positions. Gabriela Michetti, a senator for Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri’s centre-right PRO party, now seems to be trying to woo a sector of the Frente Amplio-UNEN coalition, which was formally established only a month ago by eight centrist and centre-leftist political parties. Or is it the other way around? Is Frente Amplio-UNEN trying to woo Michetti away from PRO? It really is hard to tell. Even more unsettling is seeing Frente Amplio-UNEN already potentially in disarray over an agreement with PRO.
If this senseless jockeying continues, soon it will be legitimate for voters to ask exactly how the presidential contenders will manage to run the country in 2015 if they can’t really come up with a consistent approach to dealing with party politics. Argentina has suffered badly from politicians who pretend to get on with each other on television only to engage in backstabbing once they have seized power. The year 2014 should not be about candidates.