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November 21, 2014
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pacts or facts?

The unusual sight of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and City Mayor Mauricio Macri jointly inaugurating a decisive stretch of the Illia highway on Tuesday inevitably revived theories of a “pact” which were denied by CFK in her speech even before the speculation could be renewed. Before entering into the political analysis, it should be said that anything to ease downtown traffic congestion is both sufficiently urgent and ideologically neutral to be readymade bipartisan territory (thus many Kirchnerites without a single kind word for Macri praised Metrobus at the time of its launch) — this long overdue relief for commuting motorists is thus hardly something which would be inexplicable without some hidden political agenda.

As for the alleged “pact,” the theories usually take the form of CFK seeking to revisit 1999 when an outgoing Peronist president visibly preferred an opposition alliance over his own party’s candidate — so deep-seated is the notion that the Peronist movement is the country’s natural ruling party that it seems easier to relinquish the presidency rather than control of Peronism for any politician fancying comeback chances. Since at times this year CFK has been given a rough time by some of the problems snowballing over the last decade, the thought of handing them over to somebody else must surely have its appeal. Yet rather than rumouring any tacit agreement with Macri, it might be more accurate to see this as a presidential political strategy which is mostly win-win — especially where the PRO centre-right mayor is concerned. If the “pact” theories of mutual back-scratching are correct, then CFK is favoured by passing on the presidency to a rightist who is easily demonized and eases her own return (something akin to the Chilean scenario of Michelle Bachelet on either side of Sebastián Piñera) instead of being displaced by a party colleague taking control of both the government and Peronist machinery. But if Macri were to suffer from being linked to a president who has lost half her popularity in the last three years, that would have its advantages too — yet either way, much less in it for Macri, thus raising doubts if there is any pact. Given that some of the decline in presidential popularity stems from an abrasive image, a display of common sense and practical results instead of ideologically loaded polarization might well carry opinion poll benefits. Finally, proximity to a mayor also facing court charges might remind some of the opposition that their pressure on Vice-President Amado Boudou to resign or request leave can cut both ways.

All very intriguing but none the less speculation for that.

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