The outcome of Argentina’s presidential election marks a new era for the country after 12 years of government under Kirchner rule, first by Néstor Kirchner and later by his wife, Cristina. The Argentine people showed their fatigue from the rhetoric of a government plagued by arrogance and corruption.
That arrogance was precisely the nail in the coffin for pro-government candidate Daniel Scioli, who was unable to distance himself from President Fernández de Kirchner’s worn-out administration. Scioli’s ticket included her right hand and Legal and Technical Secretary Carlos Zanini, and the candidate for governor of Buenos Aires was Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández – the most discredited figure in the President’s team – who also lost the election.
For his part, winner Mauricio Macri – Head of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires – made history by breaking the Peronist-Radical cycle with his Cambiemos party win. His campaign attracted a majority of discontented Argentinians. Many of them don’t necessarily like Macri but the idea of “I cannot vote for more of the same” prevailed.
Supporters of the current government tried to portray Macri – an engineer and entrepreneur – as a return to a neoliberal past of adjustments and privatization. However, he was able to convey and image of ambivalence regarding his past mentality and his electoral promises. What is certain is that he will break alliances with Venezuela and the left-wing governments in the region. It will be wise for his new government to avoid falling into the temptation of considering that everything done in the past is wrong and that history begins with them.
The next president will have to tackle serious financial problems, delicate currency conditions and an unusual litigation in Wall Street which may add an extra $8 billion to hedge funds, depending on the outcome. Let’s hope that, for the latter, Macri will keep the current policy of challenging what is a legal anomaly.
A new period starts in Argentina. Political alternation is the triumph of democracy. This is not a time for vindictiveness or for winners or losers. The election reveals a divided country which will require the work of all Argentinians. The new president needs support or, at least, the benefit of the doubt in order to perform. As the saying goes, this is where the rubber meets the road.