Tuesday, June 18, 2024

OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 10-08-2023 23:17

An electorate fearful of the present and doubtful of the future

In moments of crisis the country needs transformational leaders who are clear about the situation it is in and who can mark the path towards inclusive solutions.

The current electoral campaign stands out for being pedestrian and not because its spots and slogans are more or less ingenious – some are and others are not. But what the electorate is not finding are leaders with a strategic vision reflecting theirs.

None of the candidates emerge as a national leader commanding trust. Most, except for Javier Milei, are fighting for a captive electorate, which is why they find it difficult to grow. Perhaps after the elections, as has happened on other occasions, we find ourselves with a great statesmanlike head of state but that is not the perception today.

The current dilemma of an important sector of voters is fatigue with the unrelenting current situation versus the fear of those proposing change only making things worse. Alberto Fernández governs now but Mauricio Macri went before him with bad results.

The challenge facing the government candidate is knowing whether apologising for current frustrations can serve as a basis for generating confidence that things might be better in future. And the challenge facing his rivals is whether they are capable of offering a better administration than their ex-president and whether they are perceived as capable of governing rather than driving the country into chaos.

When we register that half of those responding to surveys are not interested in the PASO primaries, the only thing which we can realise with any certainty is the annoyance and frustration which the political leadership triggers in the population, Who but a tiny group could be interested in Macri’s vexation with María Eugenia Vidal for deciding to back Horacio Rodríguez Larreta or Cristian Ritondo’s frustration over that decision?

Macri must surely feel as a drama the possibility of Patricia Bullrich not winning the PASO primaries. We do not know if that is what is going to happen nor if any opinion poll can make a serious forecast today because the candidates move around in the campaign covering territory and new situations to change things crop up every day. Within an increasingly liquid society the polls are an instrument to orient campaigns but not to predict electoral percentages with millimetric precision. The drama for the population is that the leadership occupies itself discussing power while they suffer a reality which overwhelms them and fills them with uncertainty, as opinion studies and focus groups can testify.

Who can worry about infighting between leaders when thousands of tenants cannot find anywhere to live or the means to pay the rent while Congress discusses issues alien to social interests or when inflation chews up wages or when crime is a daily issue?

The infighting between leaders does not do anything more than diminish them. Real leaders tackle the primordial and not petty issues. In moments of crisis the country needs transformational leaders who are clear about the situation and who can mark the path towards inclusive solutions which modify the status quo without excluding social strata. Over a third of families living below the poverty line are already suffering enough without thinking that it is possible to govern without taking them into consideration.

The transition from here until the end of the year depends on the results of these PASO primaries. A technical draw or a minimal difference between the coalitions with Sergio Massa as the individual candidate with the most votes or a Cambiemos landslide would present very different scenarios as from next Monday. We already know what happened to the Macri government in 2019 after the PASO primaries.

That is not a luxury which the current government can afford. A good government performance would depend on the difference it might obtain in Buenos Aires Province, in the north and on good results in provinces it already governs like Entre Ríos, Santa Cruz or Catamarca, where gubernatorial voting is also being held.

A good result for Cambiemos would depend on the difference it could pile up in this city, Córdoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza. A good result for Milei would depend on a heavy youth voting turnout.

Let us hope that the close of the campaign was sufficiently motivational to trigger an electoral turnout to clarify the panorama. A bad result for this country would be a low turnout. 


* Political consultant

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Hugo Haime

Hugo Haime

Consultor y analista político.


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