It’s election day here on Sunday. I’ve been taking an interest, but Argentine party politics has got increasingly confusing over the last few years.
Polls suggest a win for the current president Nestor Kirchner’s wife Cristina Fernández. The Kirchners form part of a coalition called “Alianza Frente para la Victoria (FPV)”, which is a relatively new political entity. The alternatives on offer should you want to vote against the FPV include:
Coalición Cívica (Elisa Carrió), UNA (Roberto Lavagne), RECREAR (López Murphy), Frente Justicia, Unión y Libertad (FREJULI) (Alberto Rodríguez Saá), As well as candidates from MPU, FRAL, PPR, MIJD, FITS, PO, CLP, MST and Projecto Sur.
Almost all of these are new groupings that have coalesced recently as Frentes, Movimientos and Alianzas.
It didn’t used to be like this. Ignoring the various unelected regimes, political parties in twentieth century Argentina, at least superficially, were reasonably understandable entities:
The Right (parties like the UCD generally representing the interests of the landed oligarchy), The Union Civica Radical (UCR) (centrists supported by the urban middle class), a completely fragmented Left (surprise, surprise)… and Peronism.
Many more intelligent souls than I have perished in the attempt to define Peronism, but what began in the 1940’s as a form of National Socialism with an enormous working class power-base has been so manipulated over the years, that by the 90s Carlos Menem‘s peronists were privatising everything Peron had nationalised (and more) and following the IMFs monetarist agenda to the letter.
This neo-liberal experiment in the name of Peronism is what many blame for the country’s economic meltdown in 2001 although it was Fernando De La Rua of the UCR whose inadequacies were most exposed at the time.
So with the two most established parties discredited, the movers and shakers across the political spectrum have been fragmenting and coalescing into a myriad of new political groupings.
If Cristina does win on Sunday, apparently one of Nestor Kirchner’s plans as ex-president is to spend time putting together the building blocks of a new political party and establish something more durable than an electoral coalition.