A local humorist said that this was a really marvellous country because even the country’s left – proud as they are of being non-believers – could produce miracles as has become obvious in the electoral results. To make his point stronger, he mentioned two cases:
1) That the Left, weak, divided and marginal as it is, when jeopardised with a new electoral law concocted especially to wipe the Left from the electoral face of the earth formed a front FIT (Workers and Left Front) and – even if we did not get any national representative into parliament – we easily overcame the barrier posed against us – something not foreseeable from the mere addition of the normal flow of votes for the different tendencies that agreed to form the front.
2) That Cristina Kirchner who had done rather poorly in the previous parliamentary elections, now emerged victorious with 54%, a figure not achieved by any candidates for quite a few years.
Obviously, the humorist belongs to that relatively vast fringe of the population who still believes – to our great discomfiture – that Cristina’s administration is Left. Let us see what has led to such an unseemly Comedy of Errors.
In my opinion, the success of FIT is due to different reasons: One is that Argentine public opinion, as a persistent outcome of the years of military dictatorship, is very sensitive to any breach of human rights. As a matter of fact, one of the secrets of Kirchners’ popularity was their declared though not very candid concern about the Mothers of the Plazo de Mayo some of whom they flattered, corrupted and co-opted to their entourage. Those Mothers who resisted this are still the living symbol of relentless struggle, defying old age, and lack of media and money. Cristina’s manipulation of the electoral law was so obvious that it caused indignation and when we appealed to the toiling masses saying “do not let them silence us” the response resulted in many votes that by far exceeded what would have been the sum total of what each these parties would have achieved running alone. It was also, by the way, a clear way of showing approval of the will to draw together rather than squabble over differences that the ordinary man-in-the-street would fall to grasp. This was the so-called “democratic vote”, a way of saying NO to proscriptions!
But it was not a blind democratic stance. There were some smaller overtly right parties who lost miserably, the UCR, the other of the two formerly big parties who used to be the sole serious competitors for Peronists, lost many votes when they flocked together with de Narvaez, the “clean face” of the right. This awareness became even more evident when, after the primaries – when there was no more danger of proscription, our level of votes not only did not dwindle but evenaccrued a little.
The other reason is that there is probably a gradual recovery of the awareness that “if left is right, then right is wrong” and a weakening of the idea that participating in elections or joining a political party was playing the establishment’s game, spawned in the days when the fall of the Berlin Wall was used as sham proof that socialism was dead! The deadly power of this economic-political-social crisis is helping to shake off the illusions that capitalist rule is better.
This modification of the ideological superstructure comes as class struggle accrues at different fronts: teachers ended the school year fighting for issues that range from the disastrous financial situation of education in general to attempts by the authorities in Buenos Aires to change the law that regulating the appointment of teachers in accordance with their professional merit and not at the whim of the powers that be; rural smallholders – most of them first indigenous nations and communities – are up in arms defending the land that belonged to their ancestors which is being grabbed by multinational agribusiness; students, who protested last year against the near-collapse of their school buildings will certainly come out again when the summer holidays are over and there a many examples.
The third reason is that the bourgeois opposition was – and still is – a caricature of an opposition. So much so that a phrase was coined “With this opposition, who wants any allies?” The way they negotiated unprincipled alliances, the way they did not make a serious attempt to produce an alternative to Cristina’s “model”, limiting their criticism to merely formal complaints and recommendations to be less aggressive, to listen to what people have to say and to be friendly. The more pro fascist the candidate, the more soft-spoken his discourse, the more he smiled at cameras and patted children’s heads.
All this against a background where the effects of the crisis are not yet as strong as in Europe or the USA, so there is a feeling if we let the sleeping dogs lie we may get away with it. There was a strong tendency, especially in the primary elections, to vote for those who were already in office. So even if Cristina won at a national level, Macri, who was regarded as her right-wing opponent in Buenos Aires, won in his constituency. The idea is, as the drunken man said, while he was falling out of an 8th –floor balcony and had just passes the 4th floor, “why change if we are doing ok so far”.
Whatever the reasons for these “miracles”, one thing is sure: Cristina is out to serve her masters from Wall Street and the European Troika. There is a clear weakening of her relations with the CGT bureaucracy – Moyano did not come to the ceremony of entry into office and she made it a point that in Peron’s days the was no right to strike whereas in Kirchner’s Argentina, there is a law to defend this right… “But mind you we are talking of a right to go on strike and not to blackmail us.” Who will the judge be to decide whether refusing to cross the picket lines until workers are paid their dues is blackmail or simply defending workers’ right to decent pay?