De facto Parliamentarism
Por Ignacio Fidanza
The notion of a newly-formed Alberto-following that marginalizes Cristina from the heart of power ignores the structural makeup of the new political scene in Argentina.

The linear analyses that have been filtered to the media by sources who supposedly know how Alberto Fernández thinks fall somewhere between imprudence and naiveté. The effortless comparison with the reasoning that encouraged the connection between Néstor Kirchner and its original creator, Eduardo Duhalde, is as idle as it is thrill-seeking.

First the imprudence. Alberto still hasn't won the general election, he hasn't assumed power and he hasn't implemented initial measures to face up to an economic situation whose intricate complexity has become apparent. They are showing their cards and spending on the house while they grate on the essential workings of the next power machine.

This predictable script on the birth of Albertismo (followers of Alberto Fernández), so neatly cemented in the alliance of governors, Sergio Massa, media giant Clarín and a few mayors from Greater Buenos Aires, that seeks to force Cristina's marginalization from the core of State decisions, is surprising for how much it doesn't take into consideration. It casts Argentina as a marvelous contraption that operates all on its own and with politicians who have margins to sculpt their ambitions in a parallel universe.

According to those who frequent his circles, Alberto Fernández is very worried about the economy he is inheriting from Macri. Fernández knows that in a few short months the honeymoon phase could quickly turn into disenchantment and rebuke from the people.

This predictable script on the birth of Albertismo, so neatly cemented in the alliance of governors, Sergio Massa, media giant Clarín and a few mayors from Greater Buenos Aires, that seeks to force Cristina's marginalization from the core of State decisions, is surprising for how much it doesn't take into consideration

The question is, on which political power will Fernández lean when the time comes to make difficult decisions? The answer is obvious: Cristina Kirchner is the underlying legitimacy of the project. She brought in the decisive votes and maintained a critical stance toward Macri's government when many who today wager on creating Albertismo had been trying out a republican-brand of Peronism that was pro-market and sought to retire ex-president Cristina.

That failed, and now Alberto is the entry point they previously tried to circumvent. He and his circle are part of a political reality of Peronism that Cristina knew how to decipher, taking a step back that paved the way to take three steps forward.

Whoever believed that once Cristina won she would leave politics to take care of her grandchildren, well, they are free to go on believing. But power is another thing altogether.

Apart from personifying last resort political leadership, she will have direct control over the province of Buenos Aires in the near future - Buenos Aires representing 40% of the electoral registry, and the majority of Peronist deputy blocs and senators. This situation casts Argentina as a de facto parliamentarian country, where Alberto Fernández emerges as a sort of quasi Prime Minister-President who still has to build up his own power. One challenge that has been outlined is a labor-intensive alliance with the governors and Sergio Massa, who in contrast to Cristina's followers, are autonomous administrators of their political capital. Alberto will not be able to simply command them but will have to negotiate, follow through and renegotiate, with each one of them.

So on one side, we have a monolithic bloc with undisputed leadership and on the other, a mix of enthusiasm and keen expectancy, laced with sundry interests and odds-on frustration.

"Alberto has the power," delight the enthused. And that's real. Perhaps this is the strongest card he has in the new play for power. He holds the trump card to override decisions made by the President, and there's no way to get around it. It's all part of the play and links to other players and Peronist centers of power. This is what leads to blundering when trying to understand what is to come based on the tension between followers of Alberto and those loyal to Cristina.

Everything points to a multipolar, complicated system on the horizon, but one with a dominant planet - Cristina - in which the President will be a sort of Prime Minister without territorial power but with more administrative control over the State.

This president will have to pass through the linkages of numerous centers of Peronist power, through a framework of agreements and tensions that it would be naïve to think were unchangeable. The concept of an ad hoc parliamentarism is therefore perhaps more useful than the easy out of overexposing the newly formed reality of the Kirchner-Duhalde power struggle.

Because if we are going to talk about a coalition government, there is another possible axis for Alberto's consolidation, one that perhaps requires less Peronist greed and more political dexterity. This axis could involve dismantling what up to now has been broadcast by Alberto's followers, authorized or not, to build a power base for their leader. It is something as simple as it is difficult: to organize a government, a bloc of power, that starts to solve Argentina's problems. This sort of provocation would involve recognizing Cristina as the leader of a majority in the new galaxy of power. But a structure that places Alberto as the center of all virtue and her as the source of all problems, besides being overly-simplistic, is not at all practical. 

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