Inflation crisis hits Argentina in crucial election year

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Inflation is the main protagonist of the electoral process that this year will take place in Argentina. For the moment, the main candidacies have already been established for the primary and mandatory elections and, although the latest inflation data is better than expected, the crisis continues to hit the population.

On August 13 will be the primaries for the presidential elections in October, and the definitions are advancing: on Wednesday the party alliances were registered and no later than June 24 the names of the candidates should be known.

Whoever wins the elections and gains access to the Presidency will have to deal with a severe economic situation, in which the accumulated inflation of the last 12 months is already 114.2%. However, this week the inflation figure for May was released, which revealed a moderate slowdown in price increases.

Regarding the insertion of Argentina in the world, President Alberto Fernández received the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with whom they discussed potential instances of collaboration between the European Union and Argentina.

Meanwhile, the case of the disappearance of a young woman in the province of El Chaco occupies a central place on the news agenda, among other things because the suspects behind her disappearance (and perhaps femicide) belong to Chaco’s spheres of power. .

Inflation, while still high, slowed in May

Inflation in May in Argentina was 7.8%, 0.6 percentage points less than that of April, according to the Indec (National Institute of Statistics and Censuses). However, in the last 12 months, accumulated inflation has reached the worrying figure of 114.2%. In spite of everything, the data for the last month was less than what private consultants expected, who estimate a figure of around 9%.

One item in which the increases were lower than in previous months was food and non-alcoholic beverages: it rose 5.8%. It is a group of goods whose price fluctuations especially affect the poorest families. But another item that is also of high impact, Housing, water, electricity and other fuels, was the one that increased the most (11.9%), due to the rise in electricity and gas rates.

The products of the basic basket have increased significantly in the last year, something that has affected the poorest classes.
The products of the basic basket have increased significantly in the last year, something that has affected the poorest classes. AP – Natacha Pisarenko

High inflation is among the main concerns of Argentines, who see how their income –in the vast majority of cases– is lagging behind prices, which lose reference to determine what is the monetary value that each product or product should have. service and who find it difficult to plan their finances in the medium and long term.

Electoral alliances were registered, but definitions are lacking in the ruling party

Wednesday was the deadline to register the alliances for the national elections in October. The ruling party registered as the Unión por la Patria (the Peronist alliance stopped calling itself, then, Frente de Todos). The main opposition bloc, Together for Change, decided to keep its name.

The Union for the Homeland was born with a weak unit, given the dispute between the sector close to President Alberto Fernández, whose main presidential candidate is the ambassador in Brazil Daniel Scioli, and the most ironclad Kirchnerism, to which Máximo Kirchner, son of the Vice President Cristina Fernández and leader of the La Cámpora movement. This sector has not made a candidate official, but a name that sounds very strong is that of Eduardo Wado de Pedro, current Minister of the Interior. Another is that of the governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, who in principle wants to be re-elected in that position and not fight for the Presidency. A fourth name in dance is that of Economy Minister Sergio Massa, the third main leg of the Peronist alliance that was formed for the 2015 elections, along with Cristina Fernández and Alberto Fernández.

The Union for the Homeland agreed that there may be more than one candidate competing for their alliance in the Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries (PASO) on August 13. This Thursday Cristina Fernández will speak publicly and, as every time she has given a speech in recent months, there is an expectation that she can give (confirm?) The name of the candidate from her sector.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernández, right, and Vice President Cristina Fernández attend a ceremony celebrating the centenary of state oil company YPF, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, June 3, 2022.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, right, and Vice President Cristina Fernández attend a ceremony celebrating the centenary of state oil company YPF, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, June 3, 2022. AP – Gustavo Garello

Hegemonies and ruptures in provincial elections

Last Sunday there were elections in four provinces: San Luis, Mendoza, Corrientes, and Tucumán.

In this last province, the governor was elected, won by Osvaldo Jaldo, the candidate of the ruling party Frente de Todos, who replaced the current governor Juan Manzur on the ballot, who was prevented from running for re-election by a decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation . Jaldo, his current lieutenant governor, beat the opposition candidate Juntos por el Cambio by more than 22 percentage points.

There was also an election for the governorship of San Luis, where Claudio Poggi won. He defeated the official candidate Jorge Fernández, who responded to the current governor, the Peronist Alberto Rodríguez Saá. Poggi arrived with broad support, ranging from Together for Change, to Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, politically confronted with his brother Alberto de él. It is the first time since the return to democracy in 1983 that a non-Peronist candidate has won the governorship of that province.

In Mendoza there were primaries, in which ex-governor and current senator Alfredo Cornejo, aligned with Juntos por el Cambio, won the majority of the votes, and in Corrientes legislative elections were held, in which the pro-government alliance ECO+Vamos garnered the most support. Corrientes, which responds to Together for Change, with 66%.

In the newspaper La Nación, the journalist Carlos Pagni pointed out a relevant phenomenon, a reflection of a situation of disrepute and weariness, a marked drop in voter turnout (in a country where voting is compulsory). He also added as a symptom the defeat of the ruling party in San Luis, something that had a prelude in April, when in the Neuquén province elections the Neuquén Popular Movement suffered its first defeat in more than six decades in a gubernatorial election.

It could be read as a wave that is dragging historical hegemonies, but in the first place, both in San Luis and in Neuquén the winners were not rookies, they came from the movements that they ended up defeating, from which they had separated earlier (San Luis) or later (Neuquén). On the other hand, provincial electoral phenomena are not necessarily replicated at the national level, because the dynamics are different: the link of the electorate with the provincial governor is not the same as with the president of the nation. It is an advantage for the former, who can detach themselves from the effects caused by policies adopted by the latter.

A European visit, with an eye on strategic resources

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, met on Tuesday with President Alberto Fernández, as part of his tour of Latin America. The leaders signed a memorandum of understanding for eventual collaboration in the exploitation of strategic resources, such as copper and lithium. Von der Leyen highlighted the fact that the European Union (EU) is the main source of foreign direct investment in Argentina (around 40% of the total) and assured that there are intentions to increase investment.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) and Argentine President Alberto Fernández exchange folders during a meeting at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, June 13, 2023.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) and Argentine President Alberto Fernández exchange folders during a meeting at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. AP – Natacha Pisarenko

President Fernández said that it is necessary to advance in the renegotiation of some points of the free trade agreement between Mercosur (of which Argentina and Brazil are the main partners) and the EU, especially those referring to European protectionism in the agricultural sectors. For his part, Von der Leyen said he was optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement before the end of 2023.

Everything occurs in a context in which Argentina seeks to strengthen its multipolar relations, something that was reflected in the recent visit of the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, to China, where he sought investment and financial support.

Disappearance of a young woman in El Chaco

On June 1, Cecilia Strzyzowski, a 28-year-old girl who disappeared in Resistencia, the capital of the province of El Chaco, in the north of the country, was last seen. The prosecutor who intervenes in her case to determine what happened to her starts from the hypothesis that she may have been a victim of femicide.

There are seven detainees in the framework of the investigation, including César Sena, Cecila’s husband, and his parents, Marcela Acuña and Emerenciano Sena, leader of a provincial social movement.

Four of the detainees were pre-candidates related to Governor Jorge Capitanich, but the electoral justice excluded them from the primary elections this Sunday. Among them are the parents of César Sena.

Gloria Romero, Cecilia’s mother, asked that the elections be suspended. She believes that her daughter is dead.

Without the cup, but with dollars

The U20 Men’s World Cup concluded in Argentina. The title was taken by Uruguay, in the final last Sunday, in which they beat Italy 1-0. Although the host team was eliminated in the round of 16, the result was beneficial for the Argentine economy.

According to estimates from the Argentine Confederation of Medium Enterprises (CAME), the tournament mobilized 414,000 people, between national and foreign visitors. Foreigners brought the country US$322 million, to which is added the US$40 million that FIFA allocated to organizational expenses. According to the CAME report, “foreigners made large outlays on clothing, footwear, leather goods, jewelry, taking advantage of the exchange difference.”

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Written by Editor TLN


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