Argentina: an analysis of the political situation. Defeat and crisis of the government, opportunities and debates on the left

Coyuntura electoral argentina

We share the analysis published in the new edition of Alternativa Socialista, the newspaper of the MST, Argentine section of the ISL, on the political situation in the country after the Open and Obligatory Primary Elections (PASO) of last September 12, written by Pablo Vasco. Additionally, we add a contribution to the debates on how to strengthen the Workers´ Left Front Unity (FIT Unidad), of which the MST is an important part, in this scenario by Cele Fierro and Sergio García.

An analysis of the political situation. Defeat, crisis and then…

By Pablo Vasco

The recent elections were a hard slap in the face of the government. The debacle deepened the ruling coalition´s internal divisions and there was a change of ministers, but not of direction. We are heading into times of more austerity, more social conflict, more political instability.

A slight increase in the minimum wage in installments. An early retirement plan at a reduced value, a nice extra for a couple of months and some pre-trip discount for retirees. A super limited restitution of the IFE. A partial increase in the income tax floor. And some hypothetical credit line to cooperatives. Period. 

If there were any people who expected that with the crisis that came to light after the PASO the government of Alberto and Cristina would draw conclusions on the causes of the popular disappointment and start “filling the refrigerator”, they were wrong. 

The ratification of Guzman as head of Economy, to the delight of the IMF, and the punctual payment of almost 1.9 billion dollars a few days ago in foreign debt, confirm that the submission to imperialism continues. And the few economic measures dictated -it seems- in an attempt to revert the social discontent do not even deserve the name of palliative. 

This combo of campaign to recover lost votes is completed with the almost total elimination of restrictions, decreeing the end of the pandemic in order to announce good news.

Clear defeat and internal divisions

The loss of almost five million votes by the Frente de Todos could not happen just like that, due to its unexpected magnitude. It is obvious that the Peronist government has lost the pulse of what the mass movement thinks and feels. 

As we have already stated in our electoral assessments, it is not that all those votes went to Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change). There was no swing to the right. On the contrary: only a very small part of those who had voted for the Frente de Todos two years ago this time chose to return to Macrismo as a punishment vote. The bulk of the votes lost by the government is due to people who did not go to vote, voted blank, null or for other options, including a part that came to the FIT. This setback of the ruling party favored Juntos, which obviously won.  What the election showed, in any case, was polarization. On the one hand, in a very good election, on the left we doubled our votes. With more than one million, the Frente de Izquierda was the third national force. As for Milei’s far right, although there are similar provincial lists and we should not minimize the fascist speeches, it is a Buenos Aires phenomenon. And although he claims to be “anti-politics”, he already “does not rule out” a running with Patricia Bullrich in 2023. 

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As soon as the vote count was closed, lava began to gush in the government. Resignations at the government’s disposal, other resignations that could not be withdrawn, tense phone calls, insulting audios that went viral. On Thursday 16, Cristina’s harsh letter was made public, and just as she had accompanied the campaign acts, in the face of the crushing defeat, she sought to take off immediately. With more reflexes than Alberto, in her text she criticized the “fiscal austerity” and encouraged a few dissatisfied people. 

It was already known that the Frente de Todos is a circumstantial coalition of different political sectors: Albertismo, Massismo and Cristinismo. The first two, more to the right, the second one with a populist stamp, joined together in the same coalition to win against Macri. But the defeat showed a deeper internal crack. It was an exposed fracture, which somehow evoked the power vacuum opened in October 2001, when Chacho Álvarez resigned as De la Rúa’s vice-president and two months later the Argentinazo broke out. 

JxC and the whole bourgeois establishment acted quickly to mitigate the growing political crisis and close it as soon as possible. The Peronist rescue operation included tense negotiations for the changes in the cabinet, a shuffling of the deck among the “officials that do not work”…

“Growth of the right”… in the cabinet 

Besides not including any woman, the new ministers agreed between Alberto and Cristina disappointed a large part of the Kirchnerist base, which was expecting some sign of change but in a progressive direction. But they neither dropped money nor changed their political course. They did the opposite:

  • As we said before, Guzman, a man trusted by imperialism, is still firmly in charge of the economic portfolio. It seems that the “fiscal austerity” and the resulting malaria it causes for the working people did not bother Cristina that much. 
  • Cafiero leaves as head of cabinet and in his place enters the well known anti-rights militant and opusdeist Manzur. “I imagine a good coexistence”, said the feminist minister Gómez Alcorta, willing to swallow dinosaurs.
  • As Minister of Security, Aníbal Fernández enters, the same who before the forced disappearance of Julio López said that he could “be having tea at his aunt’s house”, who before the murders of Maxi and Darío spoke of “confrontation between picketers” and who before the murder of Mariano Ferreyra, where the police abandoned the area, said that “the police did what they had to do”. “We speak the same language”, said of him the repressor Sergio Berni.
  • The Agriculture portfolio was taken over by Domínguez, another good friend of the Vatican and of the rural bosses.

That is to say, if there was a shift in the Rosada, it was to the right. And similar to the national cabinet, Kicillof, another big loser in these PASO, had to open space in his Buenos Aires government to the feudal lords of the metropolitan area: the mayors. Therefore, when the government and its spokesmen insist that “the right wing is growing” to justify its defeat, it is not true. By assuming the right-wing agenda they do not fight it: they strengthen it.

Manzur, Anibal Fernandez, Dominguez, Perczyk and Filmus, the new ministers.

Storms on the horizon

From the economic point of view, the weight of the foreign debt and the IMF conditionings to make us pay the costs of the capitalist crisis will bring greater hardships. Therefore, in our country we are heading for an increase in social struggles. From the political point of view, this social cauldron will push for greater polarization, abrupt changes and new crises of power. For instance, a new defeat in the November election would surely reopen the government crisis. The fact is that Argentina is not an island and the Latin American and world contexts mark a panorama of greater instability, crises and popular rebellions, with the youth at the forefront. 

But in 2001, the traditional two-party regime in Argentina had broken its UCR leg but still kept its PJ leg, with stronger links with the working people through the unions and social organizations. That allowed the capitalist class, Duhalde and the Kirchners, to overcome the deep political crisis resulting from the popular outburst. Even so, Macri could not “normalize” Argentina in capitalist mode, a pending task that Alberto came to fulfill. Beaten by the bad vote, it is not certain that he will continue the two long years he has left. 

The conflict is that after two decades of governments of austerity, the Argentine bourgeois regime is already much weaker: now instead of a two-party system there is a two-coallition system, between two factions fragmented in several internal lines tied with wire and increasingly more distant from the mass movement. On the left, then, we must prepare ourselves for greater political challenges, where the question of power will be raised. 

For all these reasons, to the militants and activists who at the time voted for Alberto to get rid of Macri and do something different, we say: there is no longer any ” inside fight” that will bear fruit, comrades. The PJ as a whole responds to the pockets of the ruling class, subjugated to imperialism. We invite you to finish getting out of there and come with the Frente de Izquierda and the MST to fight for the anti-capitalist and socialist changes that are needed to achieve a liberated country and a happy people.  

The Right abounds. How to Strengthen the Left Front?

By Cele Fierro and Sergio García

The PASO elections are over and the general elections are coming, in a short and intense campaign, with a lot at stake. The government with the very difficult task of trying to recover, Juntos por el Cambio trying to consolidate its victories and the FIT Unity defending its position and seeing how to move forward with what it can. But the challenge of the anti-capitalist and socialist left goes far beyond an election day. There are debates of policy, strategy and methods of construction that are at stake and need to be done thoroughly. We offer our views.

The electoral blow received by the government unleashed a strong political crisis that kept the government and the political regime in suspense for several days. They were able to partially close this crisis, agreeing on a new cabinet that rearranged figures at the top but did not stop the dissatisfaction and the crisis at the bottom. The arrival to the government of anti-rights people, friends of agribusiness and politically responsible for the repressions of years past, generates more frustration in sectors of the base of the Frente de Todos. It is clear that the danger of the right wing is not only coming from outside, but is gaining weight within the government. In the meantime, the right wing opposition is planning how to maintain the PASO triumph in the general elections. With the limit that its results showed a consolidation of its space, but not a growth in votes. That is to say that it did not gain ground on new fringes, among other things because a wide sector of society has already seen Macrismo governing and does not want more of the same. Hence, the dissatisfaction with the current government is channeled through other variants. On the basis of this dispute of the false rift, also hovers the new agreement with the IMF, which starts with the validation of a millionaire illegal and illegitimate debt, to generate a new plan of austerity and fiscal reorganization, with the addition of the debates on labor reform and more precariousness, concrete results of a new agreement with the Fund and a claim of bourgeois sectors encouraged by, among others, the Milei, Bullrich or Larreta.

The FIT Unidad towards the November elections

As it is widely known, our front emerged from the PASO as the third national force, with more than one million votes, and with important votes in several provinces of the country. A very positive result, to which we strongly contributed from the lists (R) Evolucionemos la izquierda (Let’s evolve the left) that we promote from the MST, with results close to 30% of the overall votes of our front. Confirming in facts that where there is no agreement, it is possible to go to internal elections and that, far from weakening, can even strengthen a front, attracting new sectors. With these results, the Frente de Izquierda enters these general elections with the possibility of consolidating its political position, and even of being able to advance even more. In this sense, we have the challenge of questioning and summoning thousands of people disappointed with the government, who in the PASO did not vote, or voted blank, to support the left this time and punish positively. The same happens with the left lists that did not pass the PASO due to the mistake of having refused the unity of the left. To the voters of those lists we also call on them to support the Left Front in the general elections. And to the leaders of parties like the Nuevo MAS or Política Obrera we invite them to put an end once and for all to those visions that unfortunately divide by prioritizing divergences instead of agreements, preventing the possibility of a greater unity in the future. Proposal that we repeat. On the other hand, the fight that we have ahead against different capitalist parties and that we are going to give in common, could have been much better from the Frente de Izquierda, if there had not been hegemonic criteria expressed in an antidemocratic internal regulation, promoted by the PTS, PO and IS, to which we opposed from the very first moment. Since, towards the general elections, in some important districts such as Buenos Aires, CABA or Jujuy, one of the two lists is left out of the first rotation of a deputy, preventing thousands of voters from their most elementary rights. Or, as in the case of the Province of Buenos Aires, altering the real order of how the candidates should go, forcing our list, which should be placed in 5th place, to be unable to do so, because of the same regulation which relegates us from the place where thousands of workers and young people put us. In spite of all this, due to the good results obtained, the MST is able to be part of the 2nd rotations achieved in several districts such as PBA and CABA and of the first ones in Mendoza. Beyond certain things that weaken, the Frente de Izquierda is facing a great opportunity. And, from the MST, with these debates at a cost, we will be part of the political fight that starts these days against all the parties of the system. Because from Jujuy to Santa Cruz we will continue to advance in deploying a strong campaign, so that thousands and thousands know that only the left has the political decision to touch the interests of those who have the most and to break with the IMF. And we are going to do it with all our militancy, maintaining the central idea that our front, in many and necessary issues, advances and evolves. With that decision and strength, we are now calling on thousands and thousands of workers and youth to support us in the November 14 elections, so that the left will emerge strengthened and with more political representation, in the face of all that is to come.

Challenges and dilemmas after November

As we said at the beginning of this note, our challenges do not end with the elections: on the contrary. After the elections, a new stage will begin in the country, very possibly with a new defeat of the government, and surely, with a very strong social discontent towards a 2022 of adjustment and IMF. Hence, we need to address in depth the tasks of the left and its current problems and weaknesses. Times are coming in which, in tune with the international crisis, the failure of governments and the social and political polarization that is sweeping the continent, there may be new social convulsions, abrupt turns of the situation, crises of apparatuses, search by the left and more ruptures and discontent in the working class and popular social base and among the youth. That is why it is essential to debate what policy to have in the face of this perspective, how do we do so that the Left Front appears, summoning thousands, opening its floodgates, putting our anti-capitalist and socialist program at the disposal of new sectors that want to come. As we have said all these months, we are the only political sector with the will to really touch the interests of the rich and the big corporations. And at the same time, in order to be able to do it and not only claim it, we need to be thousands and thousands organized in our front, to have a powerful social force, that not only makes itself felt in elections, but in every daily fight, in unions, neighborhoods, universities, schools, in the environmental, feminist and dissident movement. It will be necessary after the elections that, more than ever, we tackle this debate, breaking with the conformism of achieving a few deputies and nothing more, clearing the horizon of sectarian visions that exist in the Frente de Izquierda, which do not even consider the need to incorporate new sectors, when it is clear that the weight of the anti-capitalist and socialist left in our country is a very solid base to encourage us to lead a great and broad common political movement, with organized currents, and with space and protagonism for independents, social referents, groupings that are close to our program, even with debates to be deepened. The results of the general elections, very possibly will revive this political debate, which we are going to give until the end. If we want in the future more unity of the left and more social and political weight, we will have to put an end to the floors alien to the left, the antidemocratic regulations that distort the real results and the hegemonic practices that close and shrink the front, instead of opening it and preparing to try to incorporate other sectors. We want to thoroughly democratize our front, that is a necessary and urgent task. The Left Front has a great responsibility and a greater opportunity. On condition of assuming that it can lead a great political pole of the left, without fear of the diversity of ideas and profiles, with agreements and with nuances, with visibility of all the references, without fear that those who approach in the future will do so without the total understanding of our program, but approaching with agreements and also with their own doubts and debates. Only an offensive, open and convening attitude of our front can generate the conditions for a greater leap in the medium term. And not doing so may be the basis for stagnation. That is the dilemma of the debate to come, after elections from which, through the militant action of the entire Left Front, we hope to emerge strengthened to face the tasks and struggles to come, in the strategy of a government of the workers; the basic task that commands us in the face of this decadent capitalism.

To build a stronger left, join the MST

In the PASO campaign, with our internal list in the Frente de Izquierda Unidad, we managed to install a debate, a proposal, an orientation, to make the left a real alternative for millions, to make the Frente de Izquierda bigger, broader and stronger. The elections have passed and our proposal is still standing, it is still to make a big left, that our Front goes beyond the electoral, that it acts in the class struggle jointly, that it is a rallying point for thousands of activists who are convinced of turning everything around, that the way out is not by the right, it is with the left, but they do not find their space, and our proposal began to attract their attention, because it is what they think, it is what they want, it is what we want. To all those people, comrades who accompanied us with their vote throughout the country, who joined the campaign, who helped us to supervise and with whom we meet in the streets every day, we want to invite them to join us, to be part of the construction of a broad political tool, in which all voices are heard, and from the program of the Frente de Izquierda we open up to all the sectors that stand against this system. They are the precarious, laid-off workers, who know that, if we do not fight, the bosses, the union bureaucracy and the government are going to take away more of our rights. They are the youth who took to the streets in the framework of the climate strike, who know that there is no planet B and that we must organize to defend it, far from the ecocidalists who dress in green only for the elections. We are the young women, “les pibis” that this September 28, day of the global action for the right to abortion, we were in front of the Congress and in all the cities of the country to make it clear that we will continue for the effective implementation of the IVE in every corner of Argentina and that we are on alert against the dinosaurs, who have prominent places in the national cabinet as Manzur. With the comrades that we mobilized against the “gatillo fácil” and we met in the mobilizations in defense of human rights, like the one we did on the 15th anniversary of the second forced disappearance of Julio López, we denounce the murderous police, the one defended by Berni and Bullrich, as well as the whole repressive policy of the State, which now has the well-known Aníbal Fernández as its chief. So that the right wing does not advance, neither that of the cabinet, nor that of Milei or Juntos por el Cambio, the task is to strengthen the left, because we are the only antidote against this reactionary right wing. And, within the left, to contribute to the construction of the MST, we are the ones who say that we must not conform, that we have to take advantage of being the third national force to go out to call and open the Front. We have to transform it into a great political movement that influences the political life as a whole, in every struggle, in every union, in every neighborhood. We want you to be part of the construction of the real alternative for the workers. And that is why we invite you to come and join us. To join us and be part of this collective, militant and socialist project.