Perhaps last September 12 was a turning point in Argentine politics: Peronism, united and in power, never suffered such a resounding defeat and in such emblematic districts. It lost approximately a third of the votes in relation to the previous choice, although it is true that it was only one PASO and that in 2019 we vote for president, while this time it is a midterm election. However, after a chaotic week full of versions, the government underwent very important changes in its membership, especially with the arrival of Juan Manzur as chief of the cabinet of ministers.
At the same time, in the province of Buenos Aires, Martín Insaurralde, until now mayor of Lomas de Zamora, occupies a similar position and several of his colleagues have taken up key positions in the team that until recently Axel Kicillof directed with total autonomy. Can this be interpreted as a “Intervention” of territorial leaders of the PJ to both the Presidency and the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires? Perhaps it is too harsh a term, but it is clear that the balance of power within the Frente de Todos has changed and that the more traditional segments of Peronism have gained ground.
Changes after STEP
Many have read these changes as a reflection that Cristina had finally imposed her criteria; Others, on the contrary, interpreted that after such a catastrophic result, in reality all the main protagonists of the FDT they had experienced a political defeat of proportions, certainly including the vice president, her son Máximo, their hitherto favorite dolphin, Axel Kicillof and, of course, Alberto Fernandez. The important thing is to reflect on how this saga continues. And that has to do, above all, with the result that the ruling coalition finally obtains in the November 14 elections next. Will there be more cabinet changes? Will the same economic policy continue? Will Argentina finally sign an agreement with the IMF? Many saw Martín Guzmán practically outside the cabinet even before the outcome of the PASO and in recent days it was the result of harsh criticism from the toughest segments of the K ecosystem, such as Cuervo Larroque himself. However, Juan Manzur knows Guzmán very well even long before Alberto Fernández himself, and has a good concept of him.
At least in speech, the government believes it can reverse the meager result of the PASO. As always sharp and controversial, Aníbal Fernández, the new administration spokesman, categorically denied that the government had lost since “only” it was a primary. If this were true, why did Cristina make such an exhaustive letter public? What were the changes in the cabinet, which allowed the brand new Minister of Security to come out of the quasi ostracism in which he was, to regain political and media prominence? Now, is it possible to reverse such a powerful result? The logical answer is: it seems possible, but quite unlikely. It is true that Mauricio Macri and Miguel Pichetto came back between the PASO and the general election of October 2019 exactly the 9 points that now separate JxC from the FDT. However, polarization and fear of the return of Kirchnerism were determining factors to understand this significant leap, an element that would not be as valid now, as it is a midterm election. Secondly, the government itself is betting on economic measures, not on a polarizing narrative (which he actually used to no avail in the campaign prior to PASO: Let’s remember the creative T-shirt that Martín Tetaz used on the TN screen in his debate with Carlos Heller). Most professional economists consider that the measures that the ruling party intends to implement will not have a significant effect on consumption and that, on the contrary, they could feed the economy. inflationary escalation and the exchange uncertainty. In any case, eight weeks of a lot of political intensity await us, with a government that, with the changes in personnel, looks much more active, present and focused.
How did public opinion react after the PASO and in relation to the changes implemented by the ruling party?
Together with D´Alessio IROL, in Berensztein we carried out a survey whose first conclusions are presented below. We have selected the aspects that we found most interesting to illustrate the most important topics of debate that have emerged in recent days.
First, by consulting respondents for their opinion about the changes the government is making, 43% responded that they consider them negative, 41% positive, and 15% neutral. This relatively symmetric system of preferences can be understood by observing the segmentation according to the vote in 2019: 72% of the voters of the Frente de Todos consider the changes as positive, while among the voters of Juntos por el Cambio, 77% the consider negative. Other reading: approximately 72% of original FDT voters still have a positive view of what your government does. It is precisely the same threshold of support that the ruling party obtained in the PASO: lost almost a third of the votes obtained two years ago.
After the PASO, what do people think will happen in the November elections?
Regarding the question “He believes that in the November elections the Government… ”, 34% think they will increase their vote flow but will not win, 28% that will increase and win, 23% that will decrease, and 13% that will remain the same. When analyzing these responses based on the vote in 2019, 82% of the voters of the Frente de Todos believe that the Government will increase the number of votes, but only 48% think the increase will be enough to turn the election around. Among the voters of Together for Change, 38% believe that the Government will lose votes in the November elections, 33% that they will be able to increase them but will not win, and only 6% believe that there will be an increase that may be enough for the government to win.
The changes implemented after the STEP Will they be maintained or are they provisional?
Regarding the policy changes evidenced by the Government, 47% of those surveyed interpret that these are transitory, while 35% think that they will tend to consolidate after the electoral process. Among the voters of the Frente de Todos, 59% believe that these will tend to consolidate, while 20% that they are transitory. Among the voters of Together for Change, 77% believe that the changes are transitory, and only 8% that they will be consolidated. Unfortunately, the questionnaire used does not allow to discriminate the different policy areas in which the changes have indeed been evidenced, particularly in matters of health policy (the lifting of most of the restrictions due to the pandemic) and economic (increased electoral spending ).
Finally, we asked respondents their opinion on the current composition of the Together for Change coalition. 58% consider that the opposition front is a transitory alliance, while 38% which is a force that is consolidated. The difference becomes even clearer when segmenting the responses according to the vote in 2019: 85% of the voters of the Frente de Todos responded that it is a transitory alliance, while in the voters of Juntos por el Cambio, 71% believe which is a consolidating force. That 28% of opposition voters have doubts regarding the sustainability of JxC should constitute an element of concern for its main leaders.
The respective campaigns are preparing to return with everything to the street and also obviously to the media and social networks. The weather changed, the PASSES resulted in a bucket of ice water for the FDT, and they are still trying to recover from such a blow. We will see how events unfold and how public opinion reacts. Here we present a first screenshot of the new state of affairs. Two months of enormous intensity await us.