Trial And Error: President Mauricio Macri’s Political Strategy

Publicado en The Bubble

Ever since he took office, President Mauricio Macri has enacted policies, only to backpedal on them, time and time again. At first, this was seen as a show of humility. But now some people are wondering if this could be a sign of ignorance and improvisation. The tarifazo, or steep rate hikes, is proof of this.

One of the things the opposition used to hate about former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was her tenacity when it came to decision making. When she had to decide on something, she acted with an iron fist, without any hesitation. Fútbol para Todos (the nationalization of Argentine football) and the State takeover of Aerolíneas Argentina and oil company YPF were just some examples of the tough choices she made. They showed her strength.

What Kirchnerites saw as a virtue — a strong government making strong decisions — however, the opposition saw as an authoritarian bent. But the Macri administration may need a little more of it, instead of constantly going back on its decisions. This kind of “backwards strategy,” at first seen as humility and as a Zeitgeist change, may sooner or later crack the new administration.

A Different Strategy

Since Macri took office, the administration has focused on accomplishing one of its main campaign promises: getting the country out of the grieta, or deep political divide. In order to accomplish this task, Macri opted to show that one his objectives in the Casa Rosada was to “learn” about how to rule. This was seen as humility, or him keeping a low profile. He was distancing himself from Cristina’s manner of governing.

But soon thereafter, we began seeing a strange turn of events: Macri started to go back on his decisions. From little things (tweeting about not going to a political rally and then showing up as if nothing had happened) to critical ones (increasing service rates in a trial-by-error kind of way). This was the moment when the Macri administration’s storytelling started to show its flaws.

“These actions [the tarifazo] in particular reveals a lack of foresight or disdain regarding reactions. Macri seems to make decisions with no full analysis of the impact, but at the same time shows big flexibility to change them,” says Andy Tow, a political scientist at the National Congress. And, according to him, this is not something random: “But I also think that this is a test strategy, of seeing how much the rope can be pulled, always having white out on hand: if it flies, it flies.”

Continuar leyendo

Stop Freaking Out! No One is Coming for Your Drones

Published on The Bubble

Drones.

Those little robotic friends that hover above our heads and give us endless fun. And sometimes they can also give us beautiful gifts like this.

Argentina’s new regulation on “unmanned aerial vehicles” caused a ruckus a few weeks ago since suddenly we all learned that the use of some of these devices was being regulated. As several media outlets warned about the impending death of our new favorite gadget, everyone was freaking out. Who was going to be taking beautiful aerial shots of Buenos Aires from now on if no one had access to flying drones anymore?

I feel your pain, but (surprise!) those reports were mostly incorrect.

First, let me clarify. Technically, not everything we call “drones” are, in fact, drones. This is because some can be programmed to fly on their own and do not need someone to control them, while others do need a human being to control them via a smartphone or joystick. (The latter are not drones, technically, but we’ll use this word for simplicity’s sake in this article).

Continue reading

Miguel Del Sel: A Portrait of a Politician as a Misogynistic Comedian

Published on The Bubble

Miguel Torres del Sel, the PRO party’s gubernatorial candidate, had an outstanding showing in Santa Fe Province this month: he led with 32.2 percent of the vote (Frente Progresista Cívico y Social, in second, garnered 31.8%) of that province’s PASO (or primary vote).

But who is this guy? First of all, a comedian. Then, a politician. What happens if you put those things together? In this case, it turned into a stereotype of the typical Argentine “macho”, a concept around which Del Sel has made his career.

So here’s a bit about the man that everyone needs to know about.

Continue reading

The Bubble’s Guide to the Buenos Aires Mayoral Election

Published on The  Bubble

The political cards are on the table, and there’s a full deck.

With more than twenty mayoral candidates to choose from in the upcoming City primary elections (also known as the PASO [Primarias Abiertas Simultáneas y Obligatorias]) this Sunday, here are the most relevant political figures in the race and a brief preview of where the political battle lines will be drawn this election season.

Let’s begin with some information about the primaries, because why not.

WHAT IS HAPPENING THIS SUNDAY?

The mayoral primaries are taking place in the city of Buenos Aires this Sunday, April 26th. The mayoral elections are scheduled to take place on July 5th, but each major political party has to select which candidate will represent them at the polls in little more than two months.

While there are many (many) candidates and the PRO party is expected to remain in power since most polls suggest that mayor Macri’s party continues to be supported by a majority of porteños, July is still two months away and a lot can happen in the meantime.

So for now, let’s focus on the who’s who of Sunday’s primaries and learn about the people competing to become the mayor of Buenos Aires.

Continue reading

The Man, The Legend: Aníbal Fernández is The New Cabinet Chief


Published on The Bubble

Gone are the daily press conferences that Jorge Capitanich offered everyday from the Casa Rosada. Now that Aníbal Fernández has been appointed Cabinet Chief (video below), he has already said that he will talk to reporters “around 7 AM, on the sidewalk, and as he’s making his way to the Government House”.

Yesterday President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner shuffled her Cabinet and decided to replace Capitanich, who had been in office since November of 2013. It was an open secret that his days were numbered and that he was being replaced by Presidential Secretary Aníbal Fernández, a staunch Kirchnerite always at the ready to defend Cristina from any harm that may come her way.

So who is Aníbal and why did she appoint him her new Cabinet Chief?

“When I grow up, I want to be President… Like Perón”, Aníbal used to say to his mother.

Continue reading

Could Cristina Be Impeached? It’s Complicated

Published en The Bubble

Nisman’s case has given rise to two intriguing story lines: the case of his mysterious death on the one hand, and the cover up accusations he made against Cristina on the other. Due to Nisman’s accusations, which came out after his death, many people have been talking about the possibility of Cristina being impeached. Cristina is still very far  from that, even though she has now been formally accused by the public prosecutor in the case.

An impeachment is a process whereby the President, Vice President or any member of the Executive branch is subjected to trial. The first thing to keep in mind is that this process does not follow the normal legal steps; it is more like a pre-trial that determines whether a full penal trial against these political figures is warranted.

This is because every public official in Argentina (as in almost every Western democracy) has legal protections different from those of normal citizens. These are privileges embedded in the Constitution (articles 68 to 70) and require an impeachment before a regular trial.

So, first things first: Impeachment would be necessary to strip Cristina of her protection. Articles 53, 59 and 60 of National constitution define the procedure. How does it work?

Continue reading

What Really Happened with AMIA? Four Hypotheses

Published on The Bubble

Nisman’s death has captivated the public, giving Argentineans an unexpected reason to follow news during usually-dull January. But the case is just an offshoot of the AMIA bombing on July 18th, 1994. This Jewish center (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, or “Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina”) was blown up and still nobody knows who did it. So, what happened more than twenty years ago? These are the hypotheses, counterarguments and main players.

Before we start, what’s the history of the AMIA case?

What happened with the AMIA’s case has been commonly taken as emblematic of the judicial process in Argentina. Why? Because since the investigation started, not only has the case not been solved, but also the judges and prosecutors have been accused of covering up the truth. To give you an example: Juan José Galeano, the first judge on the case, was charged with bribery, destroying evidence, coercing witnesses, illegal wiretaps, and so on.

This is why a special district attorney´s office was created on 2005 by former President Néstor Kirchner, to refresh a stale investigation searching for answers (whatever his political interests were beneath this initiative is beyond the scope of this recap).

Now, let’s go to the hypotheses.

Continue reading