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Argentina 2021, until the vaccine always

Political analyst Rosendo Fraga analyzes the difficult pandemic year and exclusively for serargentino.com advances the political landscape in the face of the elections.

Politics and Economics
Política

When we designed the political scenario for 2020 last year, there were easy questions to foresee: first, that the relationship between the President and the Vice-President was going to be key in government; second, that a difficult economic year was entering, in which indicators social issues were not going to improve, but even make something worse; thirdly, that the renegotiation of foreign debt was going to be the most important economic issue to be resolved; fourthly, that for Kirchnerism to gain influence in the judiciary would be a priority. All this was more or less so, but we could not foresee the imponderable: the pandemic.

It was an unforeseen event at the global level whose consequences and scope are still difficult to foresee.

It has become clear that we are going internationally to a more nationalist and less multilateralist world. The “nationalization” of vaccines and the total absence of G20 are some evidence. Both situations will have consequences in Argentina 2021.

In principle, the October legislative election and the advance of the  August PASOS  - which could be suspended - will be the political fact -central electoral system that will order the actions of politicians. But a year until the election is an unpredictable scenario in facts and times.  Argentina  is experiencing great political acceleration combined with an unresolved crisis and the problems resulting from the pandemic, more imponderable such as the Buenos Aires police rebellion, are returning unpredictable what can happen in months and even weeks.

Analyzing politics in conventional terms, the starting point is that despite the fall of the President's image in recent months, he, as the most relevant figure in electoral terms within the government, and the Buenos Aires Head of Government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, in the opposition, without being candidates will be those who influence the electoral process. Today the figure of Larreta seems more consolidated in his space than that of Fernández in the  government. 

It is that the figure of Vice President  Cristina Kirchner seems to have a share of power and a decision to use it that will be an unavoidable fact on the political scene of 2021 and is it is likely to have more influence in the election of candidatures than the President himself.

That Larreta and Fernández are the ones who have the best image in the two main spaces shows that the moderates are winning. But an unconventional policy is growing that is hard to be understood by analysts, as is happening throughout the Western world. It is what can be synthesized as “the angry party.” In Argentina there are social conditions for the emergence of such an alternative, what happens is that it has not found a reference or leader through which to structure itself. This political force is identified with the “let everyone go” and “anti-politics”, it is nourished by those who are desperate for insecurity, especially in the most popular sectors of Greater Buenos Aires; the middle class that lowered their standard of living and income; and those who claim to be fed up with corruption. For them there are not too many differences between Cristina, Alberto or Macri, although at the level of formal politics they appear with different and antagonistic alternatives.

At the electoral level, a central fact is whether Peronism is united or divided. If it runs fragmented, the chances of the opposition increase. But united Peronism is difficult to win, especially in the legislative election. Peronism lost in 2013, 2015 and 2017 because Sergio Massa divided it. When Cristina reunited him, then he won the election. On how this issue is going to be resolved, hypotheses can be constructed but not certainties, and it can not even be ruled out that the August PASOS can be suspended due to the situation that the country faced by the pandemic, whether or not it is valid at that time.

We should not underestimate Cristina Kirchner as a political actor on the Argentine stage. Their offensive to build power will continue in justice and the media.

In foreign policy, the relationship with the United States will not be easy, as evidenced in 2020. Argentina will seek to get closer to China with topics such as incorporating the “New Silk Road” into the geopolitical project, the option for Huawei's G5 technology, and the use and expansion of the yuan swap that make up the Central Bank's reserves.

The  social situation will be difficult and severe:  unemployment, poverty and inequality will be difficult to reverse, ending 2020 with indicators similar to 2001 and in some cases worse. The same will be true of public security, which will remain the pressing problem, especially for lower-income sectors.

But in the first months of 2021 the issue of vaccination will be central to politics.

 Rosendo Fraga 

 Director of the Center for Studies Union for the New Majority 

Publication Date: 26/12/2020

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