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ARGENTINA
Cristina Fernández easily wins election
Andrés Gaudin
10/31/2011
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Many voters say president’s inclusive policies had positive economic and social effects.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner handedly won another four-year term on the Oct. 23 general election, capturing 54 percent of the vote, topping her closest rival, Hermes Binner, by 37 percentage points.

Fernández’s victory was six percentage points above her first presidential victory in 2007, and with this election she became the leader with the greatest voter support since the country restored democracy in 1983. Her lead over Binner, of the Progressive Broad Front Alliance, was the widest in Argentina’s history.

Perhaps most notable, her support crossed socio-economic levels, gender and other demographic lines.

“From poor people who under her government recently found work, to business executives who are earning more than ever, all kinds of people voted for her, which must be interpreted as a vote for an [economic] model and not a person,” political analyst Hernán Brienza told Radio América.

The results themselves were not surprising. In the face of the ruling party’s achievements, and the opposition’s discredit, the primaries on Aug. 14 showed that her re-election seemed like a done deal. All that was missing were the final figures.

On Oct. 16, Fabián Perechodnik, director of the consultancy Poliarquía, quipped: “It’s the first time that a week before the election, we’re already doing the post-electoral analysis.”

Opposition in the press
The opposition lacked concrete plans and its main voice came from right-wing groups controlling information in the country, so much so that “the big losers of this election were the media of the right,” said Gustavo Cirelli, of the daily Tiempo.

Cirelli was alluding to the Clarín and La Nación groups, two media conglomerates that own close to 200 newspapers, agencies, radio and television stations, the only paper mill for newspapers, Internet connections, mobile telephone, in addition to running a farming business that dominates the country’s agricultural exports.

The opposition joined complaints from Clarín and La Nación, which opposed the government over a Media Law that broke up monopolies and prohibited them from own more than one nationwide television station and more than four national radio stations and two in each of the provinces.

The opposition seemed not to take into account that Fernández’s government, which began in 2007, a sort of continuation of the 2003-2007 administration of her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who died a year ago, had won over many voters with its economic, political and social policies.

“What did the opposition fail to recognize, for example, that in the last eight years, both of the "Gobiernos K" — as mainstream media called them in a disrespectful tone — “the gross domestic product has grown at an annual rate of 6 percent, with a peak of 9 percent in 2010, which is no anecdote, and ignoring that is like hitting your head against the wall,” said Alfredo Zaiat, editor of the economy section of newspaper Página 12.

Inclusive growth
This formidable growth allowed the government to break with dependency from international financial bodies and launch its own development model with very clear goals: recover the role of the state, undergo a more equal distribution of wealth, defend and push for internal market growth to propel the economy and promote political activity. All of this without isolating the country, on the contrary, strengthening ties with regional bodies like the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur, and the fledgling Union of South American Nations.

In the years that the Kirchner/Fernández governments have been in power, they recovered control of the pension system, water companies, post office and air travel with Aerolineas Argentinas, and part of the rail system, all of which were privatized in the late 1990s, during a wave of neoliberalism across Latin America. During these governments, unemployment fell from 20.4 percent in 2003 to 6.9 percent last September.

Fernández’s government has also given an allowance to 3.5 million children from poor families to ensure that they attend school and receive vaccinations. Under the program, school enrollment grew 22.3 percent and child vaccinations rose by more than 50 percent.

Pension system contributions also rose nine-fold over the past eight years; the education and scientific research budgets doubled. Also, the promotion of human rights was a major factor; the country became the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex marriage.

Fernández will start her second term on Dec. 10. Over the next four years, her party — the peronist-leaning Front for Victory — and its allies will govern in 22 of the 24 national districts, including the city of Buenos Aires, and will have a majority in both houses of Congress.

“For Argentina to be even better, we’re only missing that the opposition lets go of the information monopolies and starts to think of the country with generosity, because every democracy, to be stronger and grow, needs some dissent and debate,” said sociologist Horacio González in the program “Tinta Roja” on state Radio Nacional.
—Latinamerica Press.


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