September 17, 2014
A tale of two rallies
There is at least one interesting point of contrast between Tuesday’s Kirchnerite rally against the vulture funds and the previous day’s metropolitan launch of the Broad Front-UNEN (FAU) coalition — while the former event had no presidential hopeful in sight, the latter had far too many. And as if FAUs surfeit of egos were not enough, an almost obsessively focal point of strategy is whether to rope in yet another ambitious leader — City Mayor Mauricio Macri of the centre-right PRO (who has yet to reciprocate this interest in any way, incidentally). President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is often criticized as autistic but that would seem to be a very apt adjective to apply to FAU as they embroil themselves in their individual vanities and electoral gambits in a country which has already entered default and now stands on the brink of a recession threatening jobs (a peril to which even the Church is now giving top priority).
The more FAU’s leaders are entangled over whether adding Macri to their range of options either before or after the primaries (and here again there are multiple tactical differences) reinforces critical opposition mass or detracts from its credibility, the more reason PRO has to stand aside from this disarray and view the real battle as a three-cornered fight between Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli (or Florencio Randazzo) heading the ruling party ticket, the Renewal Front’s Sergio Massa and Macri. But apart from this destructive FAU infighting (with Elisa Carrió in the middle as usual), perhaps all parties face a central strategic dilemma. While the degree of both opposition and Peronist unity could prove absolutely crucial in provincial voting in various cases, the national election might well follow a different logic. Not only does a fragmented scenario seem to be giving rise to an atypical election in which second place in the first round might well be the best finish (as it was for Néstor Kirchner in 2003) — gaining allies often seems to do more to weaken than strengthen a candidate (Massa’s curious willingness to recruit two Greater Buenos Aires mayors, Merlo’s Raúl Othacehé and Lomas de Zamora’s Martín Insaurralde, is an excellent example, contradicting his promises of a new political style).
Not that a Luna Park rally centred on a troika of a youth grouping insisting on the supremacy of a CFK who cannot be re-elected, a rabble-rouser who flirts with anti-Semitism and an indicted vice-president who finally did not show up offers anything to fill this leadership vacuum. Regardless of whether the problem is a surplus of candidates or none at all, the prospect looks like plenty of nothing.