Opinion polls show the president conserving positive ratings of over 30 percent, in the midst of these gloomy months, and that indicates that there is an electorate out there which evidently does not vote just with their pockets.
President Mauricio Macri has every
reason to fear losing the next elections – he would not be in his right
mind if he did not. How could he
be sure of winning after four years culminating in the highest levels of poverty,
crisis and inflation since 2001?
If it were just the economy, he would be
staring defeat in the face. Luckily for him,
that is probably not the only thing which
makes his potential voters tick.
Firstly, a Cambiemos voter is not simply
a Cambiemos voter. They are people with
sometimes overlapping but also conflicting interests, who defend certain values
according to their age or where they live.
It’s a social alliance which is much
more complex than those underlying
Peronism or (far more) Radicalism,
housing conservatives and progressives, pious traditionalists and new age
militants, those for and against abortion, individuals with strong purchasing-power and slum-dwellers.
A multi-class alliance where the
economic results do not affect
everybody equally and where Macri
is not always judged by his unfulfilled promises.
Because in their eyes there were
also promises (tacit or explicit) which
he kept. For example, such voters are just
as convinced as their Kirchnerite counterparts that the government is behind the
advances in the corruption cases aimed
at Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
It makes no difference that Macri
never tires of repeating that this is untrue – a majority are sure that the judges
and prosecutors tread the government line and that the president is pushing these
investigations. For Kirchnerites that is one
more reason not to vote for him, while for
anti-Kirchnerites it is a key factor in justifying an anti-corruption vote.
Others interpret as an achievement the
‘manners’ of officials who do not yell, nor
deliver ringing speeches endlessly, nor
attack journalists. They are middle-class
and upper middle-class sectors who believe that a friendly respect for the institutions should be the norm, but that in this
country it is a virtue. They are the same
people who hail opening up to the world,
the G20 success, the criticisms against
Nicolás Maduro and the recognition of
Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela. Or
those who applaud the harsh barrages of
Security Minister Patricia Bullrich in her
media crusade against crime and drugtrafficking.
Those are values which the gross domestic product does not measure but
which mark the growth of a society for
many people. The government says that it
is precisely the sectors most receptive of
such policies which are most affected by
According to calculations, the poorest
can better endure the crisis thanks to the
social welfare plans, a well-oiled government network of containment in low-income neighbourhoods and the benefits from
some public works which have improved
their standard of living.
Meanwhile, Macri is not expecting too
much from businessmen and those at the
top of the social pyramid. Today he is
feeling betrayed by those who did not
support his “profound transformation” as
they should have done, he maintains. But
he is equally convinced that when the time
comes to vote, they will remember what
Kirchnerism meant and not be fooled by
“false prophets” like Roberto Lavagna.
To one and all he proposes his “This time
for real” plan, urging them to believe that
now the economic and institutional foundations for sustained growth are being
laid. He will tell them that relative prices
have been corrected after the devaluation,
as can be noted in a positive balance of
trade and a lower fiscal deficit. He will
talk about the deregulation of the aviation
market, the success of the low-cost airlines, the boom in domestic tourism, the
Vaca Muerta shale phenomenon, the halt
in the rising interest rates in the United
States, the momentum from Brazil and the
ideological shift in the region. In the final
analysis, the fear of losing, due to the results of the economic GDP, will lead to a
bid to mitigate this with arguments pointing to growth in the social GDP and the
promise, yet again, of a better future.
That the opinion polls show the president conserving positive ratings of over 30
percent, in the midst of these gloomy
months, indicates that there is an electorate out there which evidently does not
vote just with their pockets and the latest
exchange rate for the dollar.
The doubt is how long this faith can
resist pockets and the dollar being strained every week.