It was questioned earlier this year whether Argentinian President Mauricio Macri’s “no plan B” economic agenda towards slowing inflation and stimulating growth can be pulled off. This question still arises due to increasing political pressure from his opposition parties surrounding the impending run up to Argentina’s mid-term elections on October 22.
On the Up
In support of Macri’s controversial economic plan, Argentina is experiencing positive economic growth. The nation’s industrial production rate, as recorded in July, has risen to 5.9%– the third month of gains after 15 consecutive months of decline.
As the country is leaning towards greater stability, the government expects to forecast 3% growth and inflation of 12% in 2018. The new budget is projected to forecast a fiscal deficit of 3.2% of the gross domestic product, a decrease from 4.2% previously expected in 2017.
Members of Macri’s government appear to be in support of their President’s reform plans: Pinedo, the provisional Senate President, stated that “we will be moving toward a lower deficit, much less inflation and more growth”.
Pinedo is a member of Macri’s market friendly “Let’s Change” coalition, which is aiming to induce further reforms, especially to lower taxes before the end of the year. However, the “Let’s Change” movement does not have a majority in Congress and has to negotiate every reform with the opposition parties.
While Argentina appears to be relatively more economically stable, many Argentine people hold a negative opinion of the current government and are still feeling the effects of Macri’s austerity agenda.
This antagonistic attitude towards Macri arises at an important moment with the impending October mid-term elections. While no party is capable of causing significant changes to the makeup of congress, the focus of these elections falls upon individual political battles.
Particularly of note is the tussle for the three senate seats of La Plata, a province of Buenos Aires where the former populist President, Christina Fernandez, is running to be re-elected as a senator towards her return to the political arena. Fernandez is seen as a strong contender for this seat having won 20,000 votes in August’s primary round for the La Plata province. This is equal to 0.2 percentage points more than Esteban Bullrich’s primary round results, Macri’s preferred candidate for this Senate seat.
After the primary results, Christina Fernandez’s opposition towards Macri was strongly emboldened in a critical statement that “the truth has triumphed over lies and manipulation.”
Ironically, Fernandez- who ruled Argentina from 2007 to 2015- was indicted on corruption charges last year that she denies. An electoral position as a senator is of great importance for Fernandez, as it would make her eligible for immunity from arrest for corruption. But more significantly, her victory would adduce the idea of Fernandez running for president in 2019 whilst exemplifying Argentina’s rejection of Macri’s economic reforms.
Despite Macri putting the country back on track with a reform-minded agenda, he is feeling the pressure more than ever due to becoming increasingly threatened by Argentina’s dark political past. Christina Fernandez, a figure who left the economy in tatters and the people divided, now vows to fight against Macri’s reforms.
Consequently, the upcoming mid-term October congressional election results are important for Macri. Argentina’s civilians may ensure that the country’s worst days are behind them by giving support to Macri’s “Let’s Change” coalition, giving it the momentum it needs towards implementing its reform agenda. On the other hand, greater support for Macri’s political opposition could show that the Argentine population has lost patience with their President and risks defying Macri’s promises of a brighter Argentinian future.