This Sunday Argentines voted en masse against Kirchnerist Peronism. It was what the technicians – who almost all of us are – call a “vote-punishment.” The Argentines enthusiastically punished the party that governs them. To punish him, Argentines voted without enthusiasm for the party that does not govern them because they had punished it before by voting for the one that now governs them; Before, they had even voted en masse to punish the one who had governed them before –the one who governs them now–, who was the one who had voted before and then stopped voting and then returned to vote and yesterday, again, they did not vote. The sentence is confusing, the succession is clear, the conclusions more: election after election, Argentines vote for the party that is not governing them. Or, more clearly: what Argentines do not tolerate their governments is that they govern them.
And they are absolutely right – I think they are absolutely right -: any party that governs Argentina is going to win, in all fairness, the repudiation of its citizens. Each time, the rejection finds its ways: this, the media talks and will talk about that photo of a party at the presidential residence during the strictest confinement, they talk and they will talk about the vip vaccines, they talk and they will talk – less – of the millions that are they were left without work or without commerce or without means to eat every day. But if it had not been that, it would have been other things: Argentina, as it is, is not a governable country because it is not a viable country, it does not work. And it does not work, among other things, due to the hard work of these two political sectors that have governed it for four decades.
The party that the Argentines voted for yesterday has a more “right-wing” speech; the one who did not vote yesterday has a more “leftist” speech; their actions tend to resemble each other. The party that the Argentines voted yesterday put the country into debt, in its four years of government, some 50,000 million dollars, virtually unpayable. The party that did not vote yesterday impoverished the country in these two years of government and took it from a third of poor Argentines to almost half. The party that voted yesterday believes in the market and shouts it from the rooftops; the party that did not vote yesterday believes in the market and shouts it lower, more confused. The party that did not vote yesterday believes in clientelist assistance and practices it with courage; The party that they voted yesterday does not believe in patronage assistance and also practices it with boldness. The party that voted yesterday and the party that did not vote yesterday use justice to their advantage – and, of course, they denounce the other for using justice to their advantage. The party that voted yesterday and the one that did not vote yesterday – its most conspicuous leaders – have pending causes for various corruption. The party that voted yesterday and the one that did not vote yesterday have leaders of little flight, very fair knowledge. The party that voted yesterday and the one that did not vote yesterday are the basis of that power structure that, with a military push a long time ago, has led Argentina to its present abyss.
Argentine politics in recent decades is a pathetic back and forth between two groups that, every time they govern, manage to rehabilitate the other, which, thanks to their reprehensible government, had opened the way for them. In Argentina, it seems, the only successful policy is misgovernment: to be in front, to be in opposition, to speak and speak without having the obligation to do, say and – curiously – be believed. Some time, a few years ago, I called it the merry-go-round country – merry-go-round, carousel – something that seems to move but actually keeps going round and round on itself, without going anywhere, without changing place.
The de facto bipartisanship in Argentina is the best way to ensure the inertia of a country that needs to change direction: stop the decline. The bipartisanship – today I, tomorrow you, the day after me, the day after you – is the slab that closes any change, any hope. It will not be easy to lift it: the two parties or sectors know that they depend on the other and do everything to strengthen it. They know that their best resource is that enemy who, with their failures, will allow them to rule again and, for that, they need to behead any third party who threatens to disarm that two-headed animal. But, while the monster lasts, Argentina will continue to fall.
Fifty years ago, Argentina’s per capita gross product was half that of the United States; now it is an eighth. 50 years ago 10 percent inflation was a danger; now it would be an extraordinary achievement. 50 years ago Argentina had 40,000 kilometers of railways that armed a country; now it does not have 4,000 and most do not work. 50 years ago Argentina was self-sufficient in oil, gas and electricity; now it goes into debt to import them. 50 years ago Argentina manufactured airplanes and cars of its own design; now he unbalances his balance of payments to buy auto parts and collect them. Fifty years ago, private schools only served one in ten infants; now four more times. 50 years ago public hospitals received the majority of the population; now they only serve those who have no choice.
And we continue to allow those who have succeeded to rule us. We have not known how to get rid of them, we have not known how to invent other ways. And there are still people, here and there, who think we are not stupid.