Sunday, June 28, 2009

Los Kirchner a la carcel!

Today is election day in Argentina. That means everything, by law, was closed until 6pm, when the polls closed. This would have been the last day of the soccer season, but I guess it is postponed a week. (Vamos Huracan!)

Voting in Argentina is mandatory. I'm still unclear as to what happens if you don't vote, but a few people mentioned that they'd lost their id cards and had to go swear that they lost their ID cards in order to forgo the penalty. As you might guess, I am strongly anti-mandatory voting, but that's another story.

The big question is how the Kirchners will do. Kirchner was elected president in 2003, handed it over to his wife Cristina in 2007 in the midst of the commodities-boom fueled economic growth, and is currently the head of the Peronist party, as well as the head of one of today's tickets.

However, there is a large section of the Peronists that are not pro-Kirchner. For those of you familiar with Mexican politics, the Peronists are probably somewhat similar to the PRI in the 20th century. That is to say, ideology is trumped by the quest for power in a catch-all partisan label that doesn't really imply much ideologically.

So, instead of the political parties being on the ballot, different tickets are on the ballot. The Kirchner's ticket is "Victory Front," there's another Peronist "It Is Possible Front" (I didn't make this up, I'm thinking that their political consultant overcharged them), the Civic and Social Agreement of the UCR, the PRO, etc.

Two quirks: 1) the Kirchners decided to move the elections to today because they thought it would help them. I think it was supposed to be a few months later. 2) The Kirchners also forced through a law allowing the tickets to put anyone on the ballot...but they didn't have to serve. In other words, Kirchner wanted to put his name on the ballot in the BA suburbs, but he probably will hand over the actual seat in Congress to an underling. Yeah.

Also, nearly 40% of the vote is in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

I literally haven't talked to anyone who is pro-Kirchner. You may -- but probably don't -- recall that I wrote about a year ago that I hadn't met a single person who was pro-Cristina. To be fair, this was probably the lowest moment of her popularity, as it was during the strikes of the farmers, which was the catalyst for her eroding popularity. After months of searching, I finally met someone at a birthday party who was pro-Cristina. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Cristina is really unpopular. I still haven't met anyone who likes her.
Girl: I support Cristina.
Me: Really? You're the first!
Girl: Of course.
Me: Why, if I may ask?
Girl: I'm a communist.
Me: A communist communist?
Girl: Yes.
Me: A communist communist communist?
Girl: Yes.
Me: Like the Soviets communist?
Me: Ay, patria tuya!

Despite what the suggests, people don't really dislike the Kirchners for ideological reasons. Saying that you don't like the Kirchners here is not a way of saying that you think they are too far to the left (or right). I'll mention without comment the disturbing tendency to have members of the educated class who would consider themselves communist or socialist.

Anyway, the title of this post is stenciled in paint throughout various parts of the city. It literally means "The Kirchners to jail!" I will say that it is probably pretty important for Argentina that the Kirchners lose...although I haven't written about it, they have been taking steps similar to Hugo Chavez. The usual despot control the media, etc. In fact, one of the scandals here was that someone was caught bringing a suitcase full of cash from Venezuela. By the way, I read a few weeks ago that Chavez owns 75% of Argentina's debt. So let's hope that the Kirchners lose.