Elections in Argentina: slap in the face expected for the left-wing government

Status: 11/13/2021 9:45 a.m.

A new parliament will be elected on Sunday in crisis-ridden Argentina. In the face of rampant poverty, the left-wing government is expected to be slapped in the face. Meanwhile, a shooting star is on the rise.

By Anne Herrberg, ARD Studio Rio de Janeiro

Flags, smiles, waves to the audience – the end of the election campaign of the left government coalition of Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez. “You can be sure that I’m working tirelessly to get Argentina back on its feet,” he said. However, fewer and fewer people believe in this.

Anne Herrberg
ARD-Studio Rio de Janeiro

Already in the primaries in September, a kind of test for the congressional elections on the weekend, there was a resounding slap in the face for the Peronists. Federico Zapata from think tank Escenario says that their alliance is crunching anyway: “The coalition dispute slows everything down. It makes the president appear weak and confirms critics who have always said that his vice, the ex-president and over-figure Cristina Kirchner has the scepter in the hand.”

The queues in front of the soup kitchens are getting longer

While politics argue, the country slides deeper and deeper into crisis. The economy is shrinking, prices and unemployment are rising, and almost half of the people now live below the poverty line. The pandemic has made everything even worse. It is still unclear how the country intends to pay its billions in debt to the International Monetary Fund.

“If we have not yet reached an agreement with the Monetary Fund, it is because we are not going to kneel in front of it,” said President Fernandez. “We will negotiate in such a way that our people do not have to fear for their future.” But there doesn’t seem to be a plan for this. The queues in front of the soup kitchens are getting longer and longer, like in the port district of la Boca.

Stefanie Chinguel comes every day, she is 23 years old. “I never had to go to a soup kitchen, I always had a job,” she says. “But after the pandemic there was no more work, I send out my résumé every day, but nobody answers.

“Hello, I am the beast”

“Hello, I’m the beast,” Javier Milei growls into the microphone. Leather jacket, black hair that sticks out in all directions. Then he raises his fist in the sky: “Freedom, damn it”. He is the shooting star of Argentine politics, his message during the election campaign in the poor south of Buenos Aires, between dilapidated prefabricated buildings and exposed brick houses: The problem is the state.

“Today we are talking about why the central bank has to be abolished. Because of it, there is such high inflation in Argentina, the most unjust of all taxes, which affects the poor above all,” he says. “Everyone wins if we end them. Except of course the political caste, these thieves who deceive the citizens.”

Javier Milei at an election rally in Buenos Aires.

Image: AFP

Milei “without any real government program”

Milei got almost 14 percent in the test run in the city of Buenos Aires, his party could now move into parliament with four seats. Right-wing populism would also get a foot in the door in Argentina, says political scientist Pablo Stefanoni. “He presents himself as an anarcho-capitalist, as an uprising against the establishment, but without a real government program. He is the candidate of the discontented and protest voters, that is also a global phenomenon.”

Milei, the Argentine Trump or Bolsonaro, who wants to restore the country to its former size. That works after years of constant crisis. And everything indicates that the already polarized Argentina will emerge from the congressional elections even more torn.

Parliamentary elections in Argentina – defeat for the left government coalition expected

Anne Herrberg, ARD Rio de Janeiro, 11/13/2021 6:52 a.m.


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