Argentina holds general elections in October. While there are nine official candidates, the main contenders are liberal incumbent President Mauricio Macri and the Peronist opposition ticket formed by Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Macri represents the Together for Change coalition and has faced an acute recession that made headlines in 2018 when his administration took out the largest IMF loan in history. Cristina Fernández was president from 2007 to 2015 and stands as a polarizing, albeit extremely popular figure who currently leads polls.
Beyond the economic debates animating the campaign (between Macri’s more restricted business-friendly form of the welfare state, and Fernandez’ mirror opposite: a sovereigntist, Keynesian Industrial Policy focused narrative), the campaign invokes debates about social justice and national sovereignty. For historical reasons, the Fernandez ticket links the presence and activity of European and American business interests in Argentina to a willing subservience to meddling foreign interests can link. Moreover, the Peronist opposition seeks to link the liberal governance program of Macri to a de-emphasis on expanded inclusion of historically marginalized populations, something the Kirchers touted both in economic and political terms. In a ways somewhat uncommon in the NATO democracies, the center left is thus casts itself as the party of patriotism and regionalism.
On the other hand, Macri and his Republican Proposal party hangs its hat on the idea that if Argentina wants to secure benefits from the unfurling of globalized capitalism, it must engage with it willingly and on its own terms. Both at the level of economics and social policy, Macri’s government program relies on a vision of freer trade and investment, increased economic and social dynamism, and increased proximity to the US and the EU.
In this series we begin by deconstructing Argentina’s current economic crisis, arguably the dominant issue in the electoral landscape. Michael Cohen evaluates the Macri administration’s policies and their critical legacy. Margarita Gutman provides a more detailed statistics-based appraisal of Macri’s macroeconomic policies and their effect over the past 4 years. Matías De Lucchi unpacks a long history of foreign debt and IMF interventions. From a different political perspective, Nicolás Saldías argues that the critique of the IMF and other austerity measures as “neoliberal” obscures what Argentina’s economic predicament is really about. Santiago Mandirola offers a sociological standpoint on the Argentine obsession with the dollar and economic indicators, especially inflation. Finally, activists Cami Baron and Gabi Mitidieri provide an insightful grassroots account of the state of the feminist movements in Argentina and the ways this movement has impacted the politics of the nation at large.