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The long and tortuous agony of Cristina Kirchner

Cristina Kirchner in La Plata (Télam)
Cristina Kirchner in La Plata (Télam)

On December 9, 2015, a very significant episode occurred for Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. So much so that his book To be honest it starts right at that moment, among so many that he could have chosen. It was the last day of his government and a real crew I had gone to say goodbye to her May Plaza. Unlike many other events, that day there was no deployment of the political apparatus. There were no groups, nor too many organization flags. For the most part, it was people who loved her, he admired her, and that he had taken the train, the bus or the subway to show his gratitude. But that episode, almost like any other, admits of several readings. His was that it was an “absolutely unprecedented” event: someone who could summon a spontaneous crowd in the midst of a defeat. It was like that. But you could also see something else that sounds similar but is not the same: that even those who summon multitudes, can be defeated.

The act that CFK led on Thursday allows the same views. The only stadium was bursting: that’s true. Perhaps there are not many political leaders in the country capable of mobilizing so many people. Mauricio Macri, in the campaign for the first round of 2019, where he was also defeated, gathered crowds: his closing ceremony on July 9 brought together hundreds of thousands of people. In any case, there are not many like her, or like Macri. But that does not mean that her candidacy, with which she flirts, and tries to install her own, ends in victory. In the scrutiny of an election, the number of stadiums that a candidate could fill is not counted, but the votes that he receives.

In this sense, an assessment of the objective data that surrounds Cristina’s act allows us to think that the path that awaits her is, at least, very uphill. You have to look at the results of all the elections that were held in the last decade. In 2013, with the entire state apparatus in his favor, the CFK candidate, Marin Insaurralde, he was defeated by Sergio Massa. In 2015, Mauricio Macri defeated the Kirchnerist formula headed by Daniel Scioli. Two years later, Cristina herself lost against Esteban Bullrich, a leader of the second line macrista. In 2019, the current vice president interpreted that with her it would not be enough to win and that is why she appointed Alberto Fernandez. Last year, the united Peronism was crushed by Together for Change and barely exceeded 30 percent of the vote. During those ten years, the vast majority of polls reflected a sustained negative image of over 50 percent. Never, anyway, were those numbers worse than the current ones.

Latin American political history records many resurrection stories. The act led by Kirchner on Thursday was a reminder of the return of Juan Domingo Peron to the country on November 19, 1972, after seventeen years of proscription and exile. Perón returned, ran for election and swept away. A few weeks ago, in Brazil, Luiz Ignacio Lula Da Silva he returned to power after a long period during which his successor, Dilma Rouseff, was overthrown, and he was arrested. The PT and Lula seemed finished. That transforms his return, like Perón’s, into a kind of epic. If they could, why can’t she? It is a legitimate question.

Lula da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro by a slim margin in the second round of elections
Lula da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro by a slim margin in the second round of elections

The cases, of course, are different, especially in a central point. Perón and Lula stood up against governments that had put them out of power through methods that violated the popular will. Cristina’s situation has nothing to do with that. Beyond any look at what happened in the legal cases in which she is the protagonist, it is very reasonable to affirm that none of his political rights were curtailed, nor the other rights: unlike Perón, she was able to decide when and how to leave the country, unlike Lula, she was never detained, unlike both, she was able to stand as a candidate for senator and vice president whenever she wanted. But, furthermore, if she stands as a candidate, it will be her against a government in which she is vice president.

Some of that limitation could be seen in Thursday’s speech. Christina does not defend the governmentas any pro-government candidate would do, because they don’t agree or because they don’t want to be stuck, but does not attack him because he does not want to weaken the management of Sergio Massa. Then, it says nothing. Or almost nothing. Suddenly, he criticizes the management in the Security area, but he only dares to mention a measure of the national government, while avoid any reference to the province of Buenos Aires, where Sergio Berni, one of his men, drives, and where the main problem of insecurity is. His tone is combative but its content is restricted to one side, due to the popular rejection of the Government, and to the other due to his own commitment to the same Government. Lula and Perón had no problem campaigning against Bolsonaro and the military government: they were their enemies.

Cristina Kirchner in the act of La Plata
Cristina Kirchner in the act of La Plata

Thus, Cristina’s speech is reduced to a series of Common places away from the concrete problems of society. The most common of those places is your personal battle against the judiciary, where she is also caught in a dynamic that leads her to defeat. The Argentine institutional system, and that of democracies around the world, establishes that power conflicts are finally resolved by the Supreme Court of Justice. If a politician has problems with that court, at the end of the day, he must submit to his discretion, unless he achieves a landslide electoral victory that gives him the strength to remove some of its members. Choosing that theme as the central theme of his story becomes repetitive and useless. But It has such personal significance that she can’t help it.. And everything is then a vicious circle. She talks about her problem. She is less listened to. She aggravates her problem. That motivates her to continue with the matter. Fewer people listen to it, because people have their own challenges in life. And so.

The same limit always appears at the bottom of the matter: the popular will. She receives enormous affection from a third – a fourth? a fifth?- of the population. That gives it life. But she is not enough for her to win her battles.

Likewise, his semi-launch on Thursday has a point of strength. She is the best candidate that Peronism can have. The Juntos por el Cambio intern seems competitive. The same is not true of the Frente de Todos, where Kirchner doubles, or perhaps triples, any of his competitors. She was president twice, vice president now, defeated in the elections as a candidate, she was widowed, appointed a president: even so, her wear and tear does not reach the level that another Peronist can replace her.

Therein lies the strength but also the weakness of Peronism, and not only of Peronism, but of a whole scale of values ​​that is highly relevant to any society. At least in the declamatory -and sometimes also in reality- Kirchner expresses a series of priorities: social justice, the presence of the State, the conflict with the most powerful sectors of the economy, respect for minorities. Those values ​​find in her their only way to stay in power. But she is rejected by the majority. Then, those values ​​are unguarded. In fact, the values ​​of “neoliberalism” have never been so popular or from the “right”, for using crude categories: just add the adhesions of Together for Change and those of Javier Miley.

Javier Milei was received by a crowd in San Juan
Javier Milei was received by a crowd in San Juan

Cristina Kirchner’s candidacy has, anyway, a chance. She could order Peronism very quickly, which would represent an advantage compared to what happens in Together for Change, where a process that can be very traumatic is hinted at. But also, one of the projects in contention in the opposition is extremely tough. Could a program that, essentially, proposes to eliminate social plans, balance the deficit hitting especially on real wages, lay off tens of thousands of people in the State, raise rates, devalue, militarize the conflict with a few dozen of Mapuches, march alongside those who exhibit guillotines, promise to do “the same but faster”, lower withholdings to zero, deactivate literacy plans, go back in the granting of rights to sexual minorities? The campaign they are running these weeks Patricia Bullrichand also -although to a lesser extent- Mauricio Macri It supposes that social fatigue in the face of the progressive bombardment will drift towards quite obscurantist ideas. If it is a miscalculation, maybe CFK has a chance created by his worst enemies.

But there is a long way to go for that chess. In between, there will be legal sentences, repudiations of those legal sentences, trials that will be opened, threats against judges and prosecutors, recusals, and -even- unexpected events. A little over two months ago, someone tried to kill her. That bullet, by an incompressible and lucky miracle, did not come out of that gun. Of that 54 percent that was all his in 2011, only 33 remained in November of last year, shared with other sectors of Peronism. If at that time no judge was encouraged, today the opposite is true. In the next Congress, Peronism could end up with less than one hundred deputies and much less than half of the senators, and with barely two or three governors in the entire country. Neither she nor Peronism were ever so weak. But it’s her and Peronism. This detail forces us to say that who knows.

On these same days, the best North American political analysts are debating whether Donald Trump is a political dead man. Of course, he won the elections in 2016. He lost the legislative elections very badly in 2018. He lost the presidential elections again in 2020, becoming one of the few presidents who have not been re-elected. His candidates were defeated in 2022 despite their opposition to a disjointed president, with very low popularity, who was unable to contain record inflation. In other words: everything indicates that Trump has nothing to do with it, that he is finished. Trump responded to that like the political animal that he is: a year and a half before he had to launch his candidacy for president. So far it doesn’t look like any Republican can wrest it from him. “I will be back to make America great again,” he said.

There are people who never die.

Or, at least it doesn’t come as easy.

It agonizes, endlessly.

His agony is quite a spectacle.

But it doesn’t die.

Keep reading

Cristina Kirchner assumed her central role in the Frente de Todos, but she still has not managed to impose leadership on all Peronism
Alberto Fernández underwent an endoscopy: no “lesions with active bleeding” were found

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