Argentina: Kirchner Handed Defeat in Congressional Elections

The parliamentary elections held on Sunday, June 28 across Argentina have left a negative balance for the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In the Chamber of Deputies, for example, the party's representation fell from 115 members to 94 members. In the Senate, it lost 4 representatives and was left with 31. After recognizing the defeat, Kirchner's husband, Néstor, resigned from the head of the Justicialist Party (Peronist).

Photo by Jorge Gobbi

Photo of voting station by Jorge Gobbi

In the province of Buenos Aires, the most heavily populated in the country, the Union PRO, an alliance between Peronist dissidents and the PRO party, came out ahead. This alliance is led by Mauricio Macri, who is the current mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, and is considered to be more right-leaning than the positions of Kirchner. In the city of Buenos Aires, the PRO party won was expected, but with a smaller margin of votes that had been predicted. The surprise came with the good showing from the center-left candidate and film director, Fernando “Pino” Solanas, a Peronist critic of the government's policies. He received 24% of the votes versus 31% from the PRO, while the Civic Coalition of Elisa Carrió finished in third place. The government's party was defeated in many of the other most heavily populated provinces, such as Córdoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza. However, it achieved victory in 12 other districts.

These elections were characterized by new ways of coverage. The most interesting was the extensive use of Twitter by many of the media outlets, as well as by users. Using the hashtag #urna2009 (ballot box 2009), there was information published from polling places and there was extensive coverage of the tabulation of votes. The hashtag was used by various media outlets, such as La Nación [es] and Perfil [es]. These two media outlets also published the updates from their journalists via CoverItLive. There were also other sites, such as Stream.Zauber [es], that tried innovative interfaces to present the information, using a combination of Twitter, Facebook, video taken from Ustream and newspaper RSS feeds.

Photo of the closure of the Kirchner campaign by Mariano Pernicone and used under a Creative Commons license:

Photo of the closure of the Kirchner campaign by Mariano Pernicone and used under a Creative Commons license:

In the blogs, there were many highlighted posts. In center-left blogs that support the government, Alejandro of La Barbaerie [es] analyzes the election's winners and losers and writes that “the most important thing is not to win, rather to make the other lose.” Diego F. of Mundo Perverso [es] also writes about the defeat as a “source of legitimacy,” but also writes that there might be some temptation to write about the things that the government did wrong, but rather the things that it did right during their administration should be what is written. Artepolítica [es] writes about what the defeat on 6/29 means for those that have been supporters of this government:

3. Nos deja el esqueleto, la base, la plataforma, de lo que debe ser un modelo económico para la indepencia económica, la sobernia política y la justicia social. Nos deja la convicción que otro país es posible.

En el 2001 nadie tenía la más puta idea de cómo reencauzar el crecimiento económico. Y donde dice “nadie” incluímos principalmente a nosotros. Hoy sabemos por dónde ir, sabemos cuales fueron los huecos, sabemos cuales fueron los errores.

4. Nos deja mejor organizados, nos deja encontrados, nos deja con un enorme futuro por delante.

3. It leaves us with the structure, the foundation, the platform, for what should be an economic model for economic independence, political sovereignty, and social justice. It leaves us with the conviction that another country is possible.

In 2001, no one had the faintest idea how to re-channel economic growth. When we say “no one,” we also principally include ourselves. Today, we know where to go, we know where were the holes, we know what were the mistakes.

4. It leaves us with better organization, it leaves us discovered, it leaves us with a grand future ahead of us.

In blogs critical of the government, Martín Varsavsky, an Argentine businessman based in Spain, analyzes the elections in his entry “Liberals vs. Socialists in Argentina [es].” In PapBlog [es], Fernando Arocena compiles a top ten of interesting links and noteworthy news. Walter Bove of FunkBlogJob [es] writes about a “crushing defeat for Kirchnerism”

Por otra parte, lamentablemente, a partir de pasado mañana van a empezar a aparecer en el tapete todos los graves problemas que tiene nuestro país, la mayoría de ellos por la imprevisión, por la falta de políticas, y la absoluta inoperancia del matrimonio gobernante. La gripe A, la desocupación, la caída de actividad económica, la inseguridad, la incertidumbre social, y fundamentalmente, como frutilla van a empezar a tomar estado público algunos casos de corrupción y de malos manejos de gobierno que por ahora se venían disimulando por parte del Gobierno K.

Unfortunately, starting the day after tomorrow, all of the serious problems in our country will start to be put on the table, the majority of the problems due to the lack of foresight, to the lack of policies and the absolute inability of the governing marriage. The AH1N1 flu, unemployment, the decrease in economic activity, the insecurity, the social uncertainty, and fundamentally, as a bonus, they will start to pursue some cases of corruption and poor government management that until now, that the K(irchner) government had been hiding.

Like previous legislative elections, many of the winners were in good positions for the elections of 2011, such as Macri and Carlos Reutemann, senator-elect in Santa Fe. Many will be watching the next moves by the Kirchner government now that it appears to be weakened in Parliament. However, they still have more than 2 more years for the completion of their term.

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