Argentina: Election primaries defeat for President Macri and the effects across Latin America

President Mauricio Macri (Creative Commons)

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The decisive defeat of President Mauricio Macri in election primaries (PASO) in Argentina, something that virtually nobody anticipated, was a massive blow against the ruling elite. The right-wing neo-liberal, Macri, representing “Cambiemos”, was defeated by his Peronist rival, Alberto Fernandez standing for the Frente de Todo coalition.

 

Fernandez took 48% of the vote – 15.5% ahead of Macri. The pollsters once more made one huge blunder. None of them anticipated the debacle which ‘Macrismo’ has suffered. Both candidates will now face each other in elections in October.

Alberto Fernandez and his vice-Presidential candidate, the former President, Cristina Kirchner, gave a harsh poll beating to President Mauricio Macri, the most right-wing and retrogressive of the candidates in the country. 

The background to what has happened in the country explains why this resounding defeat has taken place. Macri promised to reduce inflation and poverty to zero. Nothing could be further from the reality. Both have increased under his government. The images of the Argentine poor, lined up row by row, in the streets to receive food, are the best example of this.

In the year 2018, alone, the Argentine peso has lost more than the half its value against the dollar. Inflation has shot up, to one of the highest in the world at 47.6 %.

This has been an enormous increase in poverty. Two million seven hundred thousand people fell below the poverty line in one year. This means that one third of the country today is poor. The majority of Argentineans today run out of money before the end of the month when they receive their salary.

The government of Macri has mortgaged the future of Argentina with the IMF for several decades. It is only necessary to declare the non-payment of this illegitimate debt for a future government to gain some space for maneuver in the budget.

All this point to a likely defeat for Macri in the general elections, to be held in October. Macri and his coalition of right-wing will have to leave the government or spend two long months to pray for a miracle to improve the economic situation, as the Chilean Minister of Finance has asked for.

Inevitable effects in Latin America

The defeat suffered by Macri is a defeat of the policies of the IMF and one of the main lackeys of Trump in Latin America.
This result is the beginning of the throwing out the hackneyed idea that the triumph of Macri, Piñera and Bolsonaro were a strong and stable “turn to the right” on the continent.

The defeat of Macri has added the enormous problems that already confront the government of Piñera and Bolsonaro in Chile and Brazil. Macri was one reference point for President Piñera in Chile.

It is clear that the defeat of Macri clearly represents one defeat for the right but not only in Argentina, but on the continent.

To understand this, just look at the hysterical reaction of Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil, following Marci’s defeat. The Brazilian minister of economy, Paulo Guedes, threatened to pull out of Mercosur as a consequence of this result. This reaction is understood to be linked to the fact that Argentina represents the third largest trade.

On the other hand, we cannot also forget that Macri, Piñera and Bolsonaro arrived in government with strong opposition the government in Venezuela. They all argued that if people did not vote for them then a Venezuelan-style crisis lay in store. Yet all of these right-wing governments today are in crisis and bankruptcy. This is without a boycott such as the United States and its satellites in Europe have imposed on Venezuela.

We are seeing the beginning of the decline of the triumphalist air of the right-wing in Latin America and they are now beginning to panic throughout the continent.

The working class rallied to vote against the Macri government, as a result of the mass poverty that it has imposed on the people. In this situation, the Trotskyist alliance, FIT, vote fell from previous results despite the social situation. However the seven hundred thousand votes for socialist and anti- capitalist ideas illustrate the resolute will of a significant layer of workers to struggle to defend the interests of the working class.

What is next for Argentina is being repeated in the rest of the continent. The workers in Argentina are rejecting the government of Macri and his “adjustment” anti –worker policies. Future governments will continue with these attacks on the working class. Fernandez has campaigned on a radical populist basis but without advocating a break with capitalism and socialist policies.

Fernandez and Kirchner, remaining within the confines of capitalism, will undoubtedly mean attacks on the working class; even should their government initially adopt some limited radical measures, as was seen under previous Kirchner governments.

The Argentinean working class will need to prepare for future struggles and build a mass party that represents their interests. This means adopting a revolutionary socialist programme to break with capitalism, linking up with the working class throughout Latin America.

 

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