Peronist government hammered in midterm elections in Argentina amid record poverty

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President Alberto Fernández’s ruling Peronist coalition Frente de Todos suffered a crushing defeat in the midterm legislative elections held on Sunday, losing nearly 6 million votes. This represents 35% of the votes won by the Peronists in the legislative elections of 2019, when Fernández was elected in the first round with 48% of the votes.

Sunday’s election renewed half of the House nationally and one-third of the Senate. In the latter case, a direct comparison with the previous results cannot be made, as votes were only cast in the third of the provinces that did not vote in 2019. The elections also renewed a number of legislatures. provincial and municipal.

The beatings suffered by the Fernández coalition resulted in the loss of 10 deputies and two senators, resulting in the loss of the Senate majority by the Peronists for the first time since the return to civilian rule in 1983.

Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner after the Peronist victory in 2019.

Sunday’s electoral defeat is all the more significant as it took place under conditions where all Peronist factions are united in the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, under the political leadership of former President Cristina Kirchner, who is vice-president of Fernández and head of the Senate. .

The government’s defeat will mean a political stalemate for the remaining two years of the Fernández presidency, as the main bourgeois opposition in the Juntos por el Cambio coalition led by Fernández’s predecessor, the right-wing billionaire Mauricio Macri, also lost 2 million dollars. vote and failed to secure a majority in Congress.

The election also gave the most votes on record for the pseudo-left United Left and Workers Front (FITU), which increased its vote by 82% from 2019, to more than 1.3 million votes. This will double their delegation from the Chamber to four deputies. FITU won 25 percent of the party list vote in the northern province of Jujuy, where trade unionist Alejandro Vilca will now be part of the province’s six-member delegation to the Federal Chamber.

Just behind the pseudo-left was the far-right La Libertad Avanza list of fascist economist Javier Milei, a supporter of Donald Trump and Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro. He won three seats and over a million votes. In his campaign, Milei led fiercely anti-Communist rallies with supporters menacingly chanting “leftists are afraid.”

Avanza Libertad’s results are seen as a political earthquake in a country that just 38 years ago was ruled by a fascist and military dictatorship that killed 30,000 socialist and leftist workers and activists. This regime has become known for particularly vicious methods such as stealing the children of political prisoners and executing prisoners by throwing them from planes in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where evidence of the regime’s crimes has never been found. could be found.

Milei had as a running mate the lawyer Victoria Villaruel, specialized for decades in the defense of former military officers accused by the Argentinian justice of having participated in kidnappings and executions of the “dirty war”. She believes that the 1976 coup and the state terror regime that followed were a necessary reaction to the actions of the Peronist guerrillas. During his victory rally at entertainment venue Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Milei spoke with a Gadsden flag in the background, as Confederate flags were seen in the crowd, who were said to have chanted “more blacks “, a racist insult directed in Argentina against indigenous populations and immigrants from other South American nations of indigenous origin.

Such a political earthquake occurs against the backdrop of an explosive social situation. Poverty now affects more than 40% of Argentines, up from 35% in 2019. This is the highest rate since 2004, following the worst economic crisis in the country’s history in 2002, when the GDP fell. dropped by 11%. Last year Argentina suffered the second worst GDP drop in its history, of 10%.

This year’s nearly 10% rebound will do little to offset worker losses after three straight years of recession, with GDP declines of 2.6 and 2.2% in 2018 and 2019. More than 60% of children are now poor, while unemployment rises to 10 percent. A third of those employed are in the so-called informal sector, without access to pensions and other social rights. Inflation is 55% on an annual basis, as signs are mounting that the government will be forced to accept a major devaluation of the national currency, the peso, which is traded on the black market for half the rate. official exchange rate. .

The government is also facing popular hostility over its disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 115,000 lives in a country of 45 million, or nearly 260 deaths per 100,000 population – in over 232 deaths per 100,000 in the United States. and behind only Peru and Brazil in Latin America.

Such a social catastrophe arose despite the use by the Fernández administration of all the bankrupt tools of the nationalist-corporatist arsenal of Peronism, including laws prohibiting layoffs, imposing wage increases in the private sector and the price control of consumer goods deemed “essential”, a ban. on meat exports and a cap on the amount of US dollars each person can buy in what is effectively a dual currency economy. None of this has stopped poverty rates from surging by more than 5 percent. This year, the inflation rate projected in the federal budget will be almost half of the real rate, which means that all mandatory adjustments to wages and social programs will be far behind the price hike.

In the last attempt to appeal to big business for “stability,” in October, the government announced that it was imposing a price freeze on 1,400 products, only to see inflation rise 3.5% from at September prices. The price freeze mandate was a response to the stinging defeat suffered by the government in the September open and compulsory primary elections (PASO) in Argentina, in which each party must pass a threshold of 1.5% of the vote in order to be able to vote. present their candidates. Now, these fictitious – almost ritualistic – corporate calls on big business to freeze prices will be used by the government to delay its already ineffective wage increase decrees.

The elections also highlighted Argentina’s debt to the IMF of more than US $ 50 billion, the highest amount ever lent to a country. The deal was struck in 2018 by former President Mauricio Macri, who lost his candidacy for re-election to Fernández in 2019. During their presidential campaign, the Peronists toyed with the idea of ​​defaulting on the debt, calling it “illegitimate” and even “illegal”. on the Trump administration’s open support for the deal as opposed to initial reservations on its feasibility from the technical body of the IMF.

Upon taking office, Fernández launched a brutal IMF-mandated austerity campaign with the promise that cuts to poverty reduction programs, the reinstatement of commodity taxes and the end of adjusted pension corrections. based on inflation would be offset by greater economic growth, which never took place. As to the “legitimacy and legality” of the debt which was at the heart of the Peronist campaign, the new government dismissed the issue as irrelevant, saying the only way forward was to attract foreign investment and demonstrate “Credibility” by paying off the debt.

When the pandemic hit the country, the Fernández administration blamed the right-wing opposition led by Macri and its demagoguery of “individual freedom”, similar to that of the European, Brazilian and American far-right, for the failure. of his government to stop the catastrophic spread of the virus in the country.

Faced with a meteoric defeat at PASO in September, the government attempted to resuscitate anti-IMF demagoguery. Cristina Kirchner, who plays a more direct role in corporatist “grassroots” Peronist organizations, from unions to so-called “social movements,” wrote an open letter attempting to blame all the government’s problems on Fernández’s failure to listening to him and declaring that she expected him to “honor the decision” taken “individually by her to present Alberto Fernández as the presidential candidate of all Argentines” and criticizing the fact that the government was suspending spending authorized.

Kirchner made it clear that she “is not asking for radicalism” but that the government follow what she said “is happening widely in the United States and Europe, that is, the state acts to mitigate the tragic consequences of the pandemic “. The government then repaid $ 1.9 billion to the IMF under new false promises that austerity would be relieved by negotiations with the fund. The government is now expected to accept a major devaluation of the peso in order to close the gap from its real devaluation on the black market, leading to further inflation and impoverishment.

The historic significance of the 2021 elections cannot be understated. He further exposed the historic bankruptcy of Peronism, which under Kirchner’s leadership and during the so-called “pink tide” was able to briefly disassociate itself from the brutal austerity measures of former President Carlos Menem, leading to the 2001 crisis.

From its earliest days, the return of Peronism was hailed by financial markets as a possible way to impose austerity while keeping the working class under control through the Peronist corporatist unions. The emergence of openly pro-dictatorship fascist forces in the form of Javier Milei’s La Libertad Avanza, is a stern warning of preparations within the ruling classes to face the growth of the class struggle with the most brutal methods.

These warnings must be extended to the pernicious role played by the pseudo-left FITU. Despite their nominal references to socialism and class independence, the FITU forces are a collection of petty-bourgeois renegades of Trotskyism, led by the Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS), who specialize in sabotaging the struggles of the working class by nurturing the illusion that reactionaries, anti- Communist Peronist unions can be pushed to the left. This same role was played in the run-up to the 1976 coup, allowing the death squads of the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA) aided by the Peronists to behead working-class organizations before the takeover. military. Later, in the 1980s, FITU’s predecessor, the Morenoite Movement towards Socialism (MAS), supported the Communist Party and the Alfonsín government in their amnesty for the torturers and murderers of the dictatorship after the military uprising. fascist of Carapintada.

The FITU campaign aimed to channel discontent with the Fernández administration behind its own parliamentary cretinism and the fight for more seats in the Argentine Congress. Argentine workers must study their history of betrayals and make the conscious decision to build a new leadership within the working class based on a socialist and internationalist perspective – an Argentine section of the International Committee of the Fourth International


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