What legacy will Mauricio Macri leave in Argentina?

. Oct 29, 2019
Argentina outgoing President Mauricio Macri Argentina's outgoing President Mauricio Macri. Photo: Silvina Frydlewsky/SC-ARG

Here at The Brazilian Report, we strive to keep a watchful eye over our Latin American neighbors and the potential knock-on effects their political and economic shifts may have on Brazil. At the weekend, Argentina held a general election which saw the country’s government swing from the right to the center-left, replacing an ally with Brazil’s administration with a potential antagonist.

To take a look back at the legacy of outgoing president Mauricio Macri, we invited Adrian Bono, CEO of The Essential, an English-based weekly newsletter about Argentina’s politics and economics.
</h4> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>For a country that breathes politics like Argentina, 2019 has been an emotional rollercoaster. From the surprise Fernández-Fernández ticket to the devastating Macri defeat in the August primaries, the electorate has finally found some certainty in what has been an unpredictable race.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As Cristina Kirchner took the stage on Sunday night to <a href="">celebrate her running mate’s victory over Mauricio Macri</a>, she took a minute to address Peronist leadership in Argentina in order to do some necessary soul searching. It was important to understand why Mr. Macri happened, she explained, and immediately warned that his presidency should be taken as a cautionary tale: from now on, Peronists should always stand together.&nbsp;</p> <p>In just a few seconds, she seemed to imply that the only reason someone like Mr. Macri could become president of Argentina was that his Cambiemos coalition had taken advantage of infighting on the left. But she’s wrong. The suggestion that the Macri administration was just a blip in history and that things are now “returning to normal” is myopic and risks once again misunderstanding the electorate in four years&#8217; time.</p> <p>Let’s get one thing straight. The Macri administration was a failure, largely in part due to a promise of economic bonanza that never materialized. Inflation and poverty, which he vowed to eliminate during his presidential term, not only didn&#8217;t go away but rose significantly.&nbsp;</p> <script src="" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>And yet, despite mockery and comparisons to former president Fernando De la Rua (who resigned amid social unrest and economic turmoil in 2001), President Macri is expected to leave office on December 10 with at least two major achievements.&nbsp;</p> <p>First, he will be the first non-Peronist president since the return of democracy in 1983 to finish his term. This may not seem like much, but it is quite the accomplishment, especially considering the so-called “Peronist curse” that says that only <em>Peronistas</em> are able to finish their presidential terms. Despite the feeling of impending doom, the population has matured and decided to express its frustration at the polls, not on the streets.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, he managed to obtain 40 percent of the national vote on Sunday (Alberto Fernández got 48 percent) which means he has become the leader of the opposition as Argentina takes the road to become a two-party system. This is particularly significant as for decades, millions of Argentines with a dislike for hyper-personalized politics seemed to be defined by who they did <em>not</em> like, rather than who they liked.&nbsp;</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/838711"></div><script src=""></script> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/838664"></div><script src=""></script> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/838550"></div><script src=""></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>“I’m an anti-Peronist” is an expression many voters around the country have used in the past to express where they stand ideologically. And if Mr. Macri and the Juntos por el Cambio coalition continue to capitalize on that sentiment, they could easily become the leading political force to challenge Mr. Fernández in 2023.</p> <p>Mr. Macri has already said he plans to go back to being the president of the Pro party (the leading party in the Juntos por el Cambio coalition) once he leaves office. María Eugenia Vidal, who lost the gubernatorial race for the Buenos Aires province to Axel Kicillof, has warned this is just a break for her and seemed to imply she will run again in the future.&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta managed to defeat his Kirchnerista opponent Matias Lammens by 20 percentage points, giving him another four-year term. Macri is leaving a legacy of robust opposition. Discounting him as a blip is underestimating his strength as the leader of a political force that isn’t going away.&nbsp;

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