Economic crisis puts Alberto Fernández down in polls

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández faces the last year and a half of his term navigating between the economic uncertainty left by high inflation and the controversy over a party he threw at the worst moment of the pandemic. Fernández has experienced a sharp decline in his image in the polls and has become the target of criticism inside and outside the ruling party.

The Argentine president participated this Wednesday (25) in the traditional You gods on the occasion of the 25th of May, the day on which the formation of the first Argentine national government is celebrated. In the speech, he called for “unity”. “Unity depends on us, it’s an individual decision and I don’t want you to think like me, but people come first,” he told the press.

The political analyst at consultancy Clivajes, Esteban Regueira, said that the main cause of the decline in the presidential image is due to the structural economic problems that Argentina has been going through since 2019 and that have not yet been resolved.

“The government prioritized the agreement with the creditors, which, although it was something very important and necessary, ended up sacrificing the containment of the local economy, and, if added to the internal conflicts fought in the ruling coalition Frente de Todos, it ends up being a lethal combination” , explained the expert.

A report published earlier this month by the D’Alessio IROL study indicated that the Fernández government has a negative rating of 73%the highest since taking office.

The concern of Argentines, regardless of their ideology, is inflation and rising prices for basic products. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec), the inflation rate registered a year-on-year increase of 58% last month, the biggest advance since January 1992, when the country was starting to emerge from hyperinflation.

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Conflict of interests

On the other hand, the internal conflict between the head of state and vice president and former president Cristina Kirchner (2007-2015) makes management in general difficult and the resolution of the economic crisis in particular.

Last Monday (23), the Secretary of Internal Commerce, Roberto Feletti, who had a fundamental role in price control and was close to the vice president, resigned.

Feletti took the decision after Fernández decided last Friday (20) that the Internal Trade Secretariat should leave the orbit of the Ministry of Productive Development to depend on the Ministry of Economy, under the orders of Martín Guzmán, a minister whose economic policy is publicly contested by Cristina and the sector that the former president leads in Frente de Todos.

“(Cristina) wants to distance herself from the current administration because it does not fit in with the objectives of the social economy that Kirchnerism used to strengthen itself while in power”, pondered the political analyst.

political fuse

The approval of the agreement between the Argentine president and the Public Ministry to close the case over the birthday party of his partner, Fabiola Yáñez, has also been criticized by the opposition. The event took place at the presidential residence in July 2020, in full confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Prosecutor Rodolfo Domínguez, from the Federal Public Ministry of San Isidro, considered the donation of 1.6 million pesos (about R$65,000) to be “reasonable” to close the case that affected the president’s public image.

The case exploded last year, on the eve of the legislative elections, when several photos of Yáñez’s 39th birthday party at the presidential residence in Olivos were leaked to the press.

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This led to the opening of a judicial investigation for the alleged violation of health restrictions in force at the time, for which the president and his companion were accused, in addition to the nine friends with whom they celebrated their birthday.

According to Regueira, the party in Olivos ended up being a kind of “coup de grace” for the Argentine president. “It really bothered people who couldn’t go out to work. In Argentina, the informal economy is very large and, if they don’t go out to work, they don’t bring money home. This was a very important political trigger for the Frente de Todos, in some ways it was the beginning of the collapse of the coalition”, he commented.