Tag Archive | "elections"

Venezuela: Opposition Wins Legislative Election

The opposition coalition Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) obtained 99 seats in the Venezuelan Legislative Assembly, against 46 seats obtained by the ruling Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV). Twenty-two seats were still to be allocated.

Head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, highlighted the normal and peaceful development of the election yesterday, when 74.25% of enrolled voters participated. International observers also ratified the transparency of the Venezuelan electoral system. Polling stations remained open for an extra hour, until 7pm local time, to accommodate the large number of voters.

Jesús Torrealba from MUD speaks to the press (photo courtesy of MUD)

Jesús Torrealba from MUD speaks to the press (photo courtesy of MUD)

President Nicolás Maduro accepted defeat and said that “democracy has won”, despite the opposition’s claims of possible fraud and violence ahead of the election. However, he warned his supporters that “the economic war has won, the strategy to damage the collective trust in a project for the country has won. It has been a circumstantial win for the state of necessity created by a policy of unbridled capitalism, of hiding goods, of making them more expensive.”

Jesús Torrealba, executive secretary of the MUD, stated: “We have a reason to celebrate today. The country asked for a change, and that change begins today. Our vote managed to democratically defeat an undemocratic government. The results send a clear message to the government that the country is tired of living in failure.”

The allocation of the remaining 22 seats in the 167-seat unicameral assembly —including three indigenous representatives— will determine whether the MUD attains a simple majority (84 representatives) or a two-third majority (112 representatives), which would allow the opposition to remove judges from the Supreme Court or approve a constitutional reform, among other things. The latter scenario could lead to a stalemate in the relationship between the executive and legislative powers.



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The Indy Eye: This Month in Photos, October

October was an interesting month here in Argentina. While we patiently waited for September’s rain to stop so we could revel in the beginnings of spring, October flew by relatively cold and grey, with just a few fleeting days of sunshine.

University students studied for exams, the country held its first ever presidential debate (where the front-runner didn’t show up), and jovial beer-drinkers trekked to Villa General Belgrano in Córdoba for Argentina’s very own Oktoberfest. Police violence escalated around the country and protesters retaliated after Barrick Gold spilled a million litres of cyanide into a river near their Veladero Mine. Argentina’s Rugby team made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, and the first statue of Juan Domingo Perón went up in the capital.

On the 25th people all around the country voted and eagerly awaited the results of the presidential election. Results which, in typical Argentine fashion, defied expectations and made us wait another month to find a winner.

And while all of that happened people still walked their dogs, waited to pay bills at kioscos, smoked cigarettes and sipped mate, and hung their laundry out to dry. On the final night of the month – Halloween – ex-pats and study abroad students (and some Argentines) flocked to costume parties at touristy bars and before they made it home, we’d slipped into November.

This was October through our lens.

All photos by Reilly Ryan

Debate by Reilly Ryan

Peron Statue Reilly Ryan

October Rain by Reilly Ryan

Police Reilly Ryan

October street Reilly Ryan

San Telmo Brew Pub Regular Reilly Ryan

Candidates by Reilly Ryan

Muralist October by Reilly Ryan

Macri Celebration Reilly Ryan

Casa Felix by Reilly Ryan

Macri Celebration Reilly Ryan

October Study Reilly Ryan

San Telmo Hug Reilly Ryan

Macri bunker by Reilly Ryan

October Couple in San Telmo by Reilly Ryan

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Colombia: Regional Elections Change Political Landscape

Sunday’s regional elections in Colombia saw several changes in the political landscape, including a major shift in the nation’s capital with the left losing power for the first time in 12 years.

Ex-Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, a centre-right independent candidate supported by Cambio Radical, some conservative factions, and former mayor Antanas Mockus, won the vote for mayor in the capital city of Bogotá and ended the left’s 12-year hold on the city.

President Santos met with mayor-elect Peñalosa yesterday (photo courtesy of Juan Manuel Santos)

President Santos met with mayor-elect Peñalosa yesterday (photo courtesy of Juan Manuel Santos)

The centrist alliance parties supported by President Juan Manuel Santos, particularly Cambio Radical and Santos’ own Partido de la U, were the overall victors of the day, while opposition parties on both the left and right saw major setbacks. With this in mind, Sunday’s elections can be viewed as a major victory for President Santos and his government.

Cambio Radical won 12 governorships directly and in alliances, including the highly important city of Bogotá, and secured a majority in Congress. Partido Liberal won 13 governorships and will have the second largest number of seats in Congress.

Julián Antonio Bedoya, candidate for Centro Democrático, will become the first openly gay mayor in Colombia with his decisive victory in Toro with over 52% of the vote.

Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo called these elections the most “peaceful and safe” in history, and cited a 47% decrease in violence from the 2011 elections.

However, the election did have its fair share of controversy.

Two non-governmental organisations, Fundación Paz & Reconciliación and Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE), filed a joint investigation alleging that at least 152 candidates involved in the municipal elections had ties with organised criminal groups.

There were also multiple reports of candidates buying votes, both in anticipation to the election and on election day itself. The government stated in a report that they confiscated over CO$1,703bn [US$ 510,000] between Friday and Sunday on election weekend.

Also, a Colombian soldier was killed in Antioquia by an ambush that was attributed to the National Liberation Army (ELN).

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PRO Deputy Candidate Fernando Niembro Resigns

Fernando Niembro (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Fernando Niembro (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

One of the main candidates in the race for national deputy for the province of Buenos Aires, Fernando Niembro, resigned on Wednesday amid a growing scandal.

The well-known sports journalist came under fire when reports emerged that his production company, La Usina, was awarded over $21m in contracts by the Buenos Aires City government.

In an open letter, Niembro wrote that he was stepping down to avoid the negative publicity to the PRO party, for which he was running.

“I have a great peace about my actions. Everything I’ve done has been transparent and according to the law,” he wrote. “I have no doubt that in time this will be clarified before society and the justice system.”

But the corruption scandal has triggered an investigation by Procelac, the government office responsible for economic crime and money laundering. Newspaper Tiempo Argentino broke the story about Niembro’s company receiving tens of millions in contracts from the government just over two weeks ago.

La Usina billed Mauricio Macri’s administration for “survey services” and “audit services”, and many have suggested favouritism was a factor in Niembro securing the contracts.

Niembro was running as a member of Macri’s party, which staunchly defended his actions despite public criticism.

Macri, presidential candidate for PRO, spoke out in defence of Niembro to Clarín on Thursday and said that “Fernando has nothing to hide… I have no doubt that (he) is innocent.”

But Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández called upon Macri, Deputy Mayor and candidate for Buenos Aires governor María Eugenia Vidal, and Buenos Aires city mayor-elect Horacio Rodríguez Larreta to explain their role in the scandal.

“The responsibility falls on who is in charge of the state,” he said in an interview with C5N.

Presidential and legislative elections will take place on 25th October.

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Tucumán: Electoral Board Ratifies FPV Victory

Governor-elect of Tucumán Luis Manzur (photo: Wikipedia)

Luis Manzur’s victory was confirmed by the Electoral Board (photo: Wikipedia)

Almost three weeks after the disputed Tucumán elections, the results of the final recount were delivered last night by the Provincial Electoral Board, confirming the victory of Frente para la Victoria (FPV) candidate Juan Manzur.

Former health minister Manzur won the contest by a margin of almost 12% , or 111,533 votes, over his Acuerdo para el Bicentenario (APB) rival, José Cano.

Electoral officials, however, will be unable to proclaim Manzur the winner until the Tucumán Administrative Appeals Court resolves accusations of fraud levied by the opposition, as per a decision by the court announced on 8th September. Cano and the APB had asked that the electoral court nullify the 23rd August result and call Tucumán residents back to the polls for a new election, a request that was denied.

Cano responded to the recount, which gave him 39.94% (380,418) of the vote against the Kirchnerist candidate’s 51.64% (491,951), saying that he would not recognise the result until the Tucumán Court presents a verdict on the APB’s claims. He told Radio America, “The result today is invalidated by justice, to such a point that the Electoral Court cannot proclaim anybody [as winner]”.

He said, “The legitimacy of this election has been marred by incidents and outrageous events that took place on election day”, referring to the opposition’s accusations of violence and the corruption of ballot boxes. The electoral authorities counted 916,507 positive votes for candidates, 25,113 blank votes, and 10,957 null ballots.

Manzur declared himself the winner at a rally of thousands of supporters in Plaza 9 de Julio, telling them, “We are here to celebrate because things turned out as we knew they would: Justicialism” – a Peronist party under the FPV umbrella – “won these elections by more than 100,000 votes”. He celebrated the confirmation of the initial result – in which he was given a 14-point lead – adding that “they wanted to hurt us, but the people of Tucumán won’t allow it.”

Although the APB candidate achieved a 16% lead in the provincial capital area, home to almost 40% of the electorate, Manzur performed well in the Tucumán interior, with a 40% and 19% advantage in the east and west respectively.

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Santa Fe: Socialists Claim Victory in Contested Local Election

Miguel Lifschitz claimed a narrow victory in Santa Fe.

Miguel Lifschitz claimed a narrow victory in Santa Fe.

According to the provisional count, the Frente Progresista Civico y Social (FPCyS) will continue to govern in the province of Santa Fe after candidate Miguel Lifschitz claimed a narrow victory in yesterday’s controversial election.

In an unprecedented result, the three most voted candidates for governor were separated by just 1.5%. With more than 95% of votes counted, Lifschitz was first with 30.69% support, just 2,128 votes ahead of PRO candidate, Miguel Torres Del Sel, with 30.58%. Omar Angel Perotti, candidate for Frente para la Victoria (FpV), came in third with 29.25% of the votes.

A full recount will take place this week, with the provincial authorities aiming to complete the final count by either Thursday or Friday.

After hours of waiting, there was confusion last night when both Del Sel and Lifschitz claimed victory. From the FPCyS camp, Lifschitz affirmed that “Sante Fe continues to be progressive. We have more future than history,” as activists waved the party’s orange and blue flags.

Meanwhile, according to the PRO’s own count, Del Sel should be leading Lifschitz by a 0.7% margin.
PRO leader and Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri addressed the controversies last night: “We have to go through the legal steps, accept the results and do so with the self-criticism that the socialists [FPCyS] didn’t have during the campaign.”

Macri and Del Sel criticised the FPCyS for declaring victory in such a tight race when there were still votes to be counted. “It’s practically a three-way tie, with very little difference between the candidates,” said Del Sel in a press conference. “Both we and the public want to know what the true final result is, because otherwise we’ll start to lose confidence in our democracy and that’s the worst thing that can happen to the country.”

This isn’t the first time that Santa Fe has dealt with polemic elections. During the primary elections that took place back in April of this year, approximately 10% of the votes were found to be uncounted, after the authorities had claimed that there had been a full count. In that case, Del Sel emerged as the candidate with the most votes, narrowly ahead of Lifschitz.

This time, 4.55% of the total votes were left uncounted with the Electoral Tribunal dismissing 304 telegrams from voting tables. Current Santa Fe socialist governor, Antonio Bonfatti explained that: “there are about 300 tables that have not been included because the tribunal couldn’t upload them due to errors, illegibility, or inaccuracies in making the telegram.”

“Our numbers indicate [a victory], but to be prudent and serious, we will have to wait for the definitive count, because it’s a little difference of between 2,000 and 3,000 votes, according to what we’re seeing,” indicated Lifschitz this morning while speaking with radio La Red.

Río Negro

Elsewhere, general elections also took place in the province Río Negro, where governor Alberto Weretilneck was re-elected with 52.72% of the votes, followed by FpV’s Miguel Pichetto, who obtained 34% of the votes.

The landslide victory was seen as a blow to the national FpV government. However, Weretilneck, who launched the ‘Juntos, Somos Río Negro’ alliance this year, dismissed speculation that he would support an opposition candidate in the presidential elections later this year.

“I’m not going to answer to any candidate because it would be incoherent with what happened yesterday,” said Weretilneck in a radio interview this morning. “We have built a provincial political movement.”

Weretilneck was elected as deputy governor in 2011 but served nearly a full term as governor following the death of Carlos Soria just 20 days after taking office.

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Mexico: Election Victory for Ruling Party Amid Violence & Protests

Exit polls suggest that ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and its allies have held on to a majority in yesterday’s elections in Mexico.

(Photo from President Enrique Peña Nieto's Facebook 2015)

Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto (Photo from President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Facebook)

Despite the fall in approval ratings due to corruption scandals, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s party is poised to gain 196 to 203 of the 500 seats in the lower chamber of Congress. Their allies, the Partido Verde, are predicted to win 41 to 48. The main opposition party, the Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN) is predicted to win between 105 and 116 seats. Smaller parties also made gains, making the political landscape increasingly multipolar. Final results will be announced on Wednesday.

On top of the 500 federal legislators, the country also chose nine state governors, around 900 mayors, and local legislators in 17 of the country’s 32 states.

However, the elections were marked with an increasing challenge to traditional parties. With the turnout estimated at around 48%, and null votes at around 5%, those supporting no party form the largest group in the country.


There were calls for boycotts, most notably in Guerrero where the parents and friends of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa normal school continue their demands for the students to be found alive, and have called for Mexicans to not to vote until the case has been resolved.

In many places activists attempted to stop the elections from taking place. According to Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the installation or working of 603 voting stations was prevented, with the majority of the incidents registered in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, known for their revolutionary history. The newspaper also reported 145 cases of violence and 254 cases of destruction of theft of election materials.

One of the hotspots of protest against the elections was the town of Tixtla in Guerrero where 20% of the voting booths were burned by the protestors and consequently the election for municipal president was annulled.

Protests for 43 missing students in Mexico (Photo by Iván [protoplasmakid], creative commons)

Protests for 43 missing students in Mexico (Photo by Iván protoplasmakid)

In a separate incident, ten teachers from CETEG teachers union were detained by federal police for attempting to impede the electoral process in Tlapa de Comonfort. In response, CETEG proceeded to withhold federal police officers demanding the release of their colleagues. The operation by the federal police to rescue their members resulted in various injuries and the death of one of the teachers. The teachers are striking for more pay and to prevent Peña Nieto’s education reform. Like the relatives and friends of the disappeared students, they had called for a boycott.

Despite the clashes, president Peña Nieto assured in a message on national TV that the majority of Mexicans had shown their faith in the political system: “With the simple but important act of going to the box and depositing our vote in the ballot box, we reaffirm our desire to live in a country of rights and freedoms, democracy and pluralism.”

He went on to condemn the protests: “There were those who tried to affect these elections. In the previous days they even performed violent acts, seeking to discourage the population.”

Arguably the most talked about event of the day, however, was the first-ever victory for an independent candidate in a governor race. Jaime Rodriguez Calderón, 57, known by his nickname ‘El Bronco’, is estimated to have gained 45% of the vote in the wealthy northern state of Nuevo León, bordering Texas. Having become a symbol of the backlash against the main parties, the future governor stated that “Nuevo León will be the beginning of a second Mexican revolution”, while his nickname became the third most used hashtag in the country yesterday.

Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, Mexican elections (Photo by Estefania Acevedo, creative commons photo)

Jaime Rodriguez Calderón (Photo by Estefania Acevedo, creative commons)

Rodriguez Calderón became famous for confronting the Zetas drug cartel when mayor of Garcia, Nuevo León. With fewer resources than the established parties, his campaign was increasingly waged over social media.

“It is the awakening of Mexico. Nuevo León is the example of citizens asleep, let’s go a for a citizens’ government,” he tweeted last night. “If we all intend to do things well we can achieve it. Thanks to everyone who trusted and supported me,” he celebrated at the end of the election day.

Some people are sceptical as to Rodriguez Calderón’s capacity to bring about desired changes. They point out that he was part of the ruling PRI for 30 years and that his campaign has focused mainly on criticising the ruling elite while concrete policy proposals have been absent.

The challenges for those seeking to transform Mexico are significant. The case of the disappeared students has brought to light the widespread links between the political elite, police and the drug cartels and the corruption therein. Widespread violence is made worse by almost absolute impunity: of crimes committed in 2013, 93.8% remain unresolved, according to the government’s own statistics.

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Salta: Governor Urtubey Re-Elected for Third Term

Salta governor Juan Manuel Urtubey (photo: Wikipedia)

Salta governor Juan Manuel Urtubey (photo: Wikipedia)

Salta governor Juan Manuel Urtubey celebrated his second re-election on Sunday. With 51.2% of the vote, the Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) candidate defeated the Romero + Olmedo alliance candidate Jorge Romero by over 20%.

Salta is the second Argentine province to choose their governor this year, behind Neuquén. This will be Urtubey’s third and final term, as Salta’s constitution limits governors to three terms. Although Urtubey won by over 50%, Salta’s constitution only requires that candidates win by a simple majority, eliminating the possibility of a runoff.

“In Salta we see progress, but also pain. There needs to be more progress and less pain,” said Urtubey in his victory speech, referencing the high levels of poverty and inequality in the province. He also thanked the “beloved president for her enormous commitment to Salta.”

The wide victory of Urtubey did not come as a surprise after last month’s primary elections, in which he won 47% of the vote against Romero, who obtained 33%.

After complaints of lack of transparency due to the electronic ballot system in the primaries, Romero clarified that “all of the complaints [of irregularities] were about the previous election.”

In Salta’s capital city, the Frente Renovador candidate Gustavo Sáenz defeated FPV candidate Javier David by seven percentage points, winning 41% of the vote. Sáenz is supported by presidential candidate Sergio Massa, who considered that “the cities define the elections.”

Urtubey closed his acceptance speech by saying “We want an Argentina that integrates everyone!” referring to his goals for the economic and social inclusion of the northern provinces of Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, and Chaco.

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The Four Paradoxes of the Election Campaign

This is an exclusive English-language translation of the article ‘Las Cuatro Paradojas de la Campaña‘ by José Natanson, originally published in edition 190 of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Politics is always many things: a struggle for power, of course, but also the defence of ideas, the construction of a discourse, masking interests, ingenuity. With six months to go to the presidential election, and four to the primaries, the campaign is starting to define itself around four paradoxes, which explain the frenetic tactical movements of recent days.

Let’s analyse them.

Paradox 1

Daniel Scioli (photo: wikipedia)

Daniel Scioli (photo: wikipedia)

According to the polls, even those conducted by opposition pollsters, Kirchnerism will leave power with the support of an important sector of society(1). The Kirchnerist core is broader than that which accompanied the agonising end of Raúl Alfonsín and Carlos Menem’s presidencies, the two long cycles of the democratic period. They still managed to keep a considerable amount of support: Alfonsinism kept its political influence many years after the former president’s resignation and Menem got almost 25% of the vote in the 2003 election; afterwards, his good luck faded.

But that militant support is not enough. Kirchnerism — not populist enough to force a constitutional reform like in Venezuela or Ecuador, and not institutionalist enough to lean on an organised party and appoint a successor like Brazil or Uruguay — is now facing the paradox of being unable to turn its solid first minority into an option that can express its ideological wavelength and also be competitive in the elections.

Not even [Interior and Transport Minister] Florencio Randazzo, the candidate that better fits this complicated mold, is able to thoroughly play this role, due to his beginnings with [former president] Eduardo Duhalde, his distance from the presidential entourage, and his strategy of avoiding strong definitions and instead focusing his discourse on his railway successes.

History repeats itself, not necessarily as a farce. In 1989 and 1999, Alfonsín and Menem resigned themselves to the fact that the government’s candidate —Eduardo Angeloz and Duhalde, respectively— would represent a different party faction. Now, with [Buenos Aires governor] Daniel Scioli leading the polls for Frente Para la Victoria (FpV), the same could be true. The difference lies in the context: in times of party post-modernism, Scioli keeps an ideological distance similar to the one that Angeloz or Duhalde showed at the time, but he dilutes it through a series of ambiguous and ‘good-vibe’ gestures, as if the only way to express his dissidence was through image and silence: Scioli is an implicit anti-Kirchnerist.

Paradox 2

The second paradox is ideological. Regardless of the results of the October elections, Kirchnerism will live on as a political culture. What do I mean, exactly? For years, political researchers have discarded the concept of political culture as a dimension to be taken into account, something impossible to capture in analytical terms, similar to the Fascists’ “national being”.

Lately, however, new studies have begun to be published which, through complex opinion polls, allow us to capture the ghost and take some conclusions out of it, like the nuclear proton gun that the Ghostbusters used to catch their victims. In that sense, the main studies carried out in Argentina concur that the great political orientations of the last decade —state intervention, social policies, a focus on Latin America, human rights— make up a core set of values that are shared by the majority of society.

And still, despite the left turn that society has experienced, the October elections appear like a sort of struggle within the centre-right. These options include Scioli, who, in his house in Villa La Ñata combines life-size statues of Menem and [music duo] Los Pimpinela with photos of himself posing next to Lula [Da Silva], the Pope, and [Néstor] Kirchner. “Scioli’s Aleph”, as it is called by his biographers, is a kind of museum of himself which shamelessly shows the trajectory of a politician who used to hide and play cards in order to avoid the assemblies in the hyper-politicised Pellegrini School in the ’70s. The same politician who, when he first ran for office —as the candidate within the fading Menemism for a seat in Congress— used a phrase that was very typical of him (“I am the opposite of the blues”) and who stuck to the end, despite the personal costs, with his three political bosses: Menem, Duhalde, and Néstor Kirchner.

Paradox 3

The third paradox refers to the opposition. Having learnt their lesson after various failed presidential experiments (their own candidate Leopoldo Moreau in 2003, the external candidacy of Roberto Lavagna in 2007, an alliance with Francisco De Narváez in 2011), the Radical party (UCR) is now leaning towards the only tactically possible option: an electoral agreement with Mauricio Macri and Elisa Carrió. The latter had preempted the move a few months earlier, also confirming her ability to lead her old party despite lacking a significant volume of voters, which, on the other hand, shows that it is possible to lead the UCR without votes, something unthinkable for Peronism: can anyone imagine a minority Peronist leader?

UCR Shield

UCR Shield

But let’s not digress. The Radical turn was possible due to the loose ideological of a political force that, despite common belief, is just as broad as Peronism: Radicalism, beyond the biased memory of the Alfonsín-Kirchnerism era, takes us back to the Alem-Yrigoyen-Alfonsín tradition as much as it does to the Alvear-Balbín-De la Rúa one.

But it can also be explained by the paradox of a party that still keeps an important share of institutional power. The UCR has the second-largest block of seats in both chambers of Congress, some 320 mayors, and the possibility of reaching government again in around five provinces; at the same time, it suffers from the lack of an expectant presidential candidate.

The closest comparison is with Brazil’s PMDB, the party that, just like the UCR, won the first election after the return to democracy with Tancredo Neves but was never able to build a national alternative. With 18 senators (against the PT’s 15), the second largest bench in the lower house, and the largest number of governors (seven), the PMDB is Brazil’s main political party (its slogan is, in fact, “Brazil’s party”). Despite all this, it has been unable to put forward its own presidential candidate… in 20 years.

Paradox 4

Finally, a territorial paradox. The main presidential candidates (Scioli, Mauricio Macri, and Sergio Massa) and the fourth fundamental actor in the campaign (Cristina) lack their own candidates in key districts. The Buenos Aires City primaries are approaching and neither Scioli or Massa have anything to offer. Likewise, Kirchnerism lacks important names in Córdoba and Santa Fe and Macri’s PRO does not have a popular candidate in the province of Buenos Aires: the fact that they have chosen the Buenos Aires city deputy mayor to run for governor is symptomatic.

The cause of this apparent anomaly is the territorialisation of the Argentine party system. Born out of the expansion of a centre towards a periphery, the main parties (Peronist, Radical, and Socialist) are going through a process, at least since the ’90s, of relocating power centres from the national to the territorial level. This is a result of the decentralisation policies implemented during the first Menem administration, which strengthened the provincial states by giving them control of the health and education services and which turned the governors into political actors of an importance unthinkable a few years earlier.

This trend deepened during the 2001 crisis, when the federal state was forced to establish urgent and direct conversations with the towns in order to attend to social emergencies: much like an overwhelmed firefighter, the national government delegated the execution of social welfare programmes (the one targetting heads of household first, and Argentina Works, amongst others, after) to the town mayors. So if the governors had burst into the big political leagues in the ’90s, the mayors did it from 2001 onwards: [Former Tigre mayor] Massa, in this respect, is a product of the crisis.

As a result of these deep shifts, political parties splintered into fragments that establish possible and opportunistic relations between themselves, with the state the only actor able to give them an order and a meaning (up to a certain extent). The main candidates are territorial chiefs, but they have difficulties projecting beyond their respective territories.

Double T

Elections in Argentina (Photo: Jorge Gobbi)

Elections in Argentina (Photo: Jorge Gobbi)

Let’s rewind. The two “intense minorities” of Argentine politics — the ‘Sunni’ Kirchnerists and the uncompromising anti-Kirchnerists — lack candidates that can live up to the media noise they produce. Their hegemony in communication terms does not translate into electoral successes, because representation is more complicated than television and because TV ratings do not mean votes (well-known politicians who do not win elections: Elisa Carrió, Luis D’ Elía, Diana Conti, Patricia Bullrich…).

Far from these burning extremes, society seems to lean towards the broad centre of the “commodity politicians”, a gooey ecosystem through which they wade slowly, trying not to make mistakes. And this is because politics is television but it is also territory, the double T that captures the number of its successes and its failures.

If we look carefully, we can explain the strategies of the main actors through the needs of those who have high levels of public knowledge and acceptance but lack territorial infrastructure (Macri, Massa, Scioli) in opposition to those who have control of towns and provinces, institutional power, and a mass of activists, but lack representative national leaders (UCR, the Peronist governors, La Cámpora). The four paradoxes described above make up the most basic explanation of these crossed-over needs.

1. Around 30%, according to the more pessimistic polls, and 40% according to the more optimistic ones.

Translated by Celina Andreassi.


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Salta: Governor Urtubey Wins Primary Election

Juan Manuel Urtubey casting his vote in Salta. (courtesy of Urtubey for Governor)

Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey (photo courtesy of Urtubey for Governor 2011)

Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey from Frente Justicialista Renovador para la Victoria came ahead in his provinces’s open, simultaneous, and mandatory primaries (PASO), obtaining 47% of the vote against runner up Juan Carlos Romero from the Romero + Olmedo alliance (Frente Renovador and PRO), with 33%.

Urtubey celebrated his victory, saying that “we want to go ahead and not go back to the past, we want to go ahead with inclusion.” The governor critised the opposition and highlighted “the strong inclusion that took place in Salta, because today [for yesterday] there was a clear confrontation between an inclusion project against the economic powers.”

The national government sought to capitalise on Urtubey’s victory ahead of the provincial and national elections that will take place this year. Interior and Transport Minister and presidential pre-candidate, Florencio Randazzo, was one of the Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) leaders to consider Urtubey’s victory as “an important [display of] support to the policies of the national government.”

Romero, however, questioned the results, saying that the government had tampered with the electronic voting system and committed “one of the most massive frauds in the history of the province.”

Left-wing Partido Obrero (PO) came third with 7% of the vote and celebrated the result. They also highlighted the 12.5% of the vote the received in the capital mayoral primary, and the “first place” obtained by their candidates in that district for privincial legislators and town council members.

The primaries were meant to define the candidates for the general election that will take place on 17th May, and in which Urtubey will seek to be reelected for a third term. However, each party presented just one candidate for governor and most presented one ballot for provincial deputies and senators. Only one party -Movimiento Independiente Justicia y Dignidad- was unable to obtain the 1.5% of the vote required to participate in the general election.

The city of Salta was an exception, as the primaries effectively defined the candidate for mayor for the Romero + Olmedo alliance. There, Sergio Massa’s candidate Gustavo Sáenz beat PRO candidate Guillermo Durand Cornejo by a difference of less than one percentage point (22.42 against 21.75%). Urtubey’s man, Javier Durand, came first with 22.79% of the vote, however Romero + Olmedo’s combined vote almost doubles that of the pro-government candidate.

Next Sunday, the provinces of Mendoza and Santa Fé will hold primary elections, and on 26th April it will be the turn of the City of Buenos Aires.


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As a possible ‪Grexit‬ looms in the old continent, we revisit Marc Rogers' article comparing Greece's current situation to Argentina's own 2001-2 crisis.

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Magdalena's Party in Palermo

Magdalena’s Party has daily 2 x 1 Happy Hour specials til midnight, and the "best onda".
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