Surprise defeat

Our take on the Argentine government's surprising losses in legislative elections.

Argentina’s Frente de Todos party, led by the current government of President Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, suffered a surprising defeat in recent legislative elections, paving the way for the opposition with primaries scheduled for November this year.

A political scientist in Buenos Aires provided context, “No one foresaw such a defeat. Not even the opposition believed that the government would lose the symbolic provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Cruz, but they did.”

“No one foresaw such a defeat. Not even the opposition believed that the government would lose the symbolic provinces of Buenos Aires and Satan Cruz, but they did.”

Political scientist, Buenos Aires

Argentineans feel underwhelmed by the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, struggles to deal with the country’s continued economic crisis and the catch-all ideology of the Frente de Todos which included former presidential candidate Sergio Massa and a number of regional governors.

The malaise runs deeper than this, according to an Argentinean sociologist, “There is widespread discontent over how long lockdown lasted, the VIP vaccination scandal, the birthday parties in the presidential residence during lockdown, the deteriorating economy, growing insecurity etc. There were warning signs: protests and social media outrage, but the government paid no attention and now they are divorced from the people.”

“There were warning signs: protests and social media outrage, but the government paid no attention and now they are divorced from the people.”

Sociologist, Argentina

So who were the winners? The political scientist explained, “Undoubtedly, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta [Head of the government of Buenos Aires] has strengthened his plan to become the next president in 2023. He may have some competition from Mauricio Macri, whose image has risen a lot in recent weeks and may well fancy another run at president. There were other winners, of lower calibre, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their profile after the excitement is over.”

Alberto Fernández admitted the defeat, which he considered a punishment vote and said that he aimed to finish his mandate in 2023 with less poverty and more jobs. Meanwhile, the upcoming November primaries are seen as crucial to gauge the support that the current president might have to run for re-election. A reshuffling of the cabinet is expected to turn around voting intentions and dynamise the bases of Peronism. 

Despite the results, this is Argentina and predicting what may happen tomorrow is almost impossible, never mind predicting the outcome of an election two years away. The political scientist warned, “The results have created more uncertainty but I think it is fairly clear that Fernández doesn’t have a chance. Larreta and Macri have made gains but they won’t run against each other. Of the outsiders, Javier Milei showed strong support, especially from the youth, but it will be difficult for him to grow to the levels required to run for president.”

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