Argentina: It’s Time for Macri to Support Real Electoral Reform

Mauricio Macri came to office with a promise to do away with the old way of doing things, but regulatory changes ahead of October's elections reveal that things will proceed exactly as they have before.

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Argentina’s electoral system is in need of serious reform (PanAm Post).

Republican Proposal, the major component of Maurcio Macri’s Cambiemos coalition, was born with the promise to improve upon the realm of traditional politics, which is full of vices. When the party of Mauricio Macri was in the wilderness, occupying the role of the opposition battling a Kirchnerism that sought to crush Argentina’s institutions, the movement had an interesting proposal to change Argentine policy.

However, it was not even necessary for the forces of Macrismo to reach the Casa Rosada to reveal their membership in the gang practicing the “old politics”, which came to be criticized only through the narrative and the aesthetics of Republican Proposal.

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Already from within the Congress, positioned as the main opposition group in the midst of the Kirchner era, the forces of Macrismo voted for a political reform that further restricted electoral competition. Since then, the creation of new political movements became practically impossible, and the registered parties became rental companies at million-dollar prices during the electoral period.

Although Cambiemos has not been able (or has not wanted) to modify the statist economic structure of Argentina, (according to them due to lack of legislative strength), there are no excuses for its current “raison d’etre” to remain promoting the business interests of the corporations, as was the case until 2015. The huge closed lists of candidates remain, government parties maintain all their privileges, there is no possibility of independent candidates outside the parties, and the creation of new political movements is totally restricted. As if this were not enough, the State continues to pay fortunes for the PASO (Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primary Schools) that serve no more than as a survey and that benefits the existing political regimes of each district.

The proposals to create a more just and electoral political system disappeared when Macri’s coalition won. In the coming elections the cheating, coupled with an expensive and vicious electoral process, will be exactly the same as in the times of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Argentina has some success stories, such as the single ballot in the province of Córdoba, where the voter marks his option on a single ballot, or the Santa Fe system, where the candidates are chosen independently. The results of these models demonstrate the virtues of their respective systems: minority forces have access to the legislative branch, and there is a better and more transparent system of fundraising for said movements.

The reform that Argentina needs must be promoted by a government, with the agreement of the opposition. And any opposition must support a proposal to limit the power, which can be abused by any ruling party. Unfortunately, as Macri reaches the end of his first term, this pending issue remains.

Macri is in the fight of his life to win election to a second term, facing powerful challengers from the left and the center. Argentina will hold a first round presidential election on October 27 of this year. If no candidate wins 45% of the vote, or 40% with a 10 point margin of victory, the election will proceed to a second round between the top two candidates.

Macri once looked favorable for a second term, but inflation, currency devaluation, and rising debt levels have negatively impacted his popularity.

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