Argentina: Cristina Kirchner Continues to “Play a Part” for Macri
Cristina Kirchner, never one to step away gracefully, is now embroiled in a bitter struggle with her former Peronist allies for leadership of the opposition.
Recently, the government of Mauricio Macri received an important warning. The divided opposition, from which he has benefited since assuming power in December 2015, showed some common sense and were able to win an important victory. All the Peronist factions, including Kirchnerism, Massism and the provincial governors, combined forces and managed to take away from Cambiemos a key position in the Council of Magistrates of the Nation. The body, which is in charge of appointing and overseeing justices of the judicial branch, will now be under the sway of Peronism.
Until last week, the key power players in the Cambiemos entourage were led by the Cordoba deputy, also affiliated with the Radical Civil Union Party (URC), Mario Negri and the Macrista deputy Pablo Tonelli. The Peronist unity hemmed in the UCR, and key player Tonelli gravitated towards the company of the Massista Graciela Camaño and the Kirchnerista Eduardo Wado de Pedro.
One year after the elections, the Peronist machinations began to greatly complicate Macri’s political manouverings. Macri explicitly saw the damage that Peronist unity could do to his dream of re-election. However, the panic was only short-lived.
Yesterday, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner reappeared with pomp and circumstance, and in addition to proving herself once again to be the most important figure in the opposition, she went back to the left. She did it in the most crude way, as if she were at the height of the cycle of “Socialism of the 21st century”, already in frank decadence in the region.
During her speech, in which she attacked “neoliberalism”, the ex-president, longtime ally of Chavez and Maduro, criticized with impunity the republican system of government. For Cristina, the division of powers is an old system that should be replaced.
[AHORA] @CFKArgentina en #CLACSO2018: "Gobernar con tres poderes (y uno vitalicio como el judicial) data de 1789. Estamos con el mismo sistema de gobierno de cuando no existía la luz eléctrica ni el auto. ¿Alguien sacaría una muela como en 1789 hoy?"
— CLACSO (@_CLACSO) November 19, 2018
It is not necessary to be a prestigious political analyst to realize that these statements do nothing but isolate her from a Peronist movement with dreams of returning to the majority, amidst their lust to return to power. While these statements play well to the hardcore Kirchneristas, no doubt they serve as a distraction and obstacle to any hopes of defeating Macri in next year’s presidential election.
Kirchner-Macri Complicity: the precedent of 2015
Putting aside the intentions of her latest machinations, the truth is that Cristina Kirchner already “played a role” for Mauricio Macri. She was even the person who made the most important decisions that led to his election as president. Beyond attempting to generate a total disenchantment among the voters regarding Macri, Kirchner was dedicated to boycotting the Peronista presidential ticket, headed by Daniel Scioli.
The election of Carlos Zannini as a candidate for vice president and the support for Aníbal Fernández in the province of Buenos Aires were two key episodes to turn Macri into the head of state and María Eugenia Vidal into governor. If the Peronists had chosen more mainstream candidates, with greater approval ratings and higher public regard, instead of putting together candidates who were largely repudiated by the electorate, the story would certainly be very different today. Surely the Justicialist Party would be governing.
This does not indicate that Kirchner’s desire was for Macri to win. But it does confirm that a Cambiemos victory was preferable to a Peronism that was no longer under her control. Every time a Justicialist renewal took shape, the previous “caudillismo” was rendered obsolete. That’s what Duhalde did to Menem, just as the Kirchners did to Duhalde. Cristina was not willing to suffer this scenario and preferred to lose with her own movement, than for a new faction of Peronism to win, which was independent of her power.
Today, especially after the episode involving the Council of Magistrates of the Nation, it is clear that if Peronism unites, Cambiemos will be in trouble. But of course, for the hypothetical unity of the Peronists to take place, Kirchner has to step aside. With this insistence on being the leader of the opposition, and with speeches like yesterday’s, Cristina, just like in 2015, continues to play a part for Macri.