Sign of things to come

A piece in The World Today notes that Argentina under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has experierenced a number of swings.

It notes how “the second largest country in South America has a history of swinging left and right in a wide arc that has sent it crashing repeatedly into an abyss of political and economic chaos, only to re-emerge slowly from the quagmire”. The article goes on to mention how “During most of the past century, Argentina veered between a series of right-wing military dictatorships and populist elected governments. The most notable periods of constitutional rule were the three presidencies of Juan Perón, who despite being himself a general, gained office by popular vote, taking up the cause of the underprivileged working class.That cycle of civilian versus military rule was broken in 1983”.

It mentions how President Fernández de Kirchner a swing is occuring again, with her model consists of “a combination of Perónist nationalism from the 1940s, the kind that led Perón to nationalise seven British-owned railway companies in 1948, and revolutionary Perónism of the 1970s, the fiery generation that the 58-year-old president belongs to, which took up arms with the dream of creating a socialist state, only to be slaughtered in their thousands”.

It adds how she has reversed “the liberal reforms applied by her Peronist predecessor, Carlos Menem, who during his 10-year rule in the 1990s swung the country violently in the opposite direction. Menem freed the state-controlled economy, privatised utilities and oil resources, opened up imports and embarked on what he called a ‘carnal’ relationship with Washington while placing Argentina’s sovereignty claim on the Falkland Islands under an ‘umbrella’ that allowed Buenos Aires to re-establish friendly relations with London”. It mentions how her husband as president undid Menem’s refroms and established a growing economy.

Now however the author writes that after her re-election she “has opted to push all the populist buttons, stridently restating old claims to the ‘Malvinas’, the overnight nationalisation of YPF, Argentina’s largest company, the sudden blocking of imports and the imposition of controls on the foreign exchange market . This has been accompanied by the creation of a fiercely loyal youth organisation ‘La Campora’.The president takes her decisions in solitude, does not hold Cabinet meetings and ignores the press, although she does address the country regularly in carefully staged appearances. Pledges of ‘loyalty and love for Cristina’ have become routine from government officials”.

While it would be foolish to state such a state of affairs exists in the United States now, there are signs that such a regime could come about without too much difficulty should the parties not work with the system created by the Founders, or radically overhaul it, as has been suggested here before.


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