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.”