Argentina - 2019 Election
Argentina is a federal constitutional republic. Mauricio Macri won election to the presidency in 2015 in multiparty elections the media and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) described as generally free and fair. The country held midterm elections in October 2017 for one-third of the Senate and one-half of the Chamber of Deputies.
Argentina's next presidential and national elections are in October 2019, making Argentine president Mauricio Macri's commitment to austerity potentially very costly. Macri saw his approval rating fall below 40% in mid-2018 as his government embraced IMF austerity. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged its "full support" for Argentina on 31 august 2018 as the country sought to overcome an ongoing economic crisis that has prompted a world-record interest rate hike and seen the value of the peso plunge to a record low against the dollar.
In May, a survey of more than 1,000 people by Argentine pollsters D'Alessio Irol/Berensztein revealed that 75 percent of respondents felt seeking assistance from the Washington, DC-based IMF was problematic. In May 2018, a survey of more than 1,000 people by Argentine pollsters D'Alessio Irol/Berensztein revealed that 75 percent of respondents felt seeking assistance from the Washington, DC-based IMF was problematic.
It would not take a hard-core Peronist to sell a narrative that Argentina’s new pro-business elites in government failed both the working and middle classes. The peso, high inflation and high-interest rates will be enough of an example unless the peso turns the corner.
The context of the talks with the IMF was summarized by Bloomberg on 02 September 2018: “Macri is in a pinch to please investors by cutting spending, while ensuring that the belt-tightening austerity doesn’t cause social upheaval ahead of next year’s election.”
The corruption case known as “Notebook-gate” had become the front line of the government’s political offensive against ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was leading the polls ahead of the 2019 elections. Kirchner’s vice-president, Amado Boudou, was sentenced in August 2018 to six years in prison in a different corruption case, while the “Notebook-gate” scandal that began on 01 August 2018 had already involved 26 arrests, 17 plea bargains, 70 raids and 52 subpoenas. Kirchner herself appeared twice in court and has had her apartments searched.
This case is based on eight diaries written by a chauffeur of a former top official under Kirchner’s Ministry of Federal Planning, including details on numerous pick-ups and deliveries of bags with millions of dollars in alleged kickbacks, even to the residences of the Kirchners.
The enormous corruption network revealed pushed the Peronist factions led by Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto and former presidential candidate Sergio Massa further away from Kirchnerism. However, Fernández de Kirchner responded by approaching Hugo and Pablo Moyano, who lead the Truckers’ Union, as well as a large faction of the main trade-union central CGT, and the Multisector F21 movement (MF21). The Moyanos described these talks “as a first step after many years of distance from Cristina to explore the possibility of unifying Peronism to come back to power.”
Labor unions and social groups blocked streets in downtown Buenos Aires on 12 September 2018 to protest austerity measures proposed by the government and backed by the International Monetary Fund to reduce Argentina’s debt. Argentine leader Mauricio Macri claims he needs to carry out such measures to regain investors’ confidence by reducing the country’s spending.
Having signed a US$50 billion standby financing deal with the IMF in June 2018, the slide in the peso prompted Macri’s administration to pledge deeper spending cuts to secure an early release of funds. The cuts incited thousands to protest. University teachers were on strike for three weeks demanding higher wages until over half of the universities reached an agreement with the government.
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