The electoral pandemic

The unfavorable result for the Frente de Todos in these PASO, so different from the figures of just two years ago, implies a strong wake-up call for the national government and for the provincial governments that have also been disadvantaged.

A part of the votes that the right-wing candidates received yesterday supported Alberto Fernández in 2019. Although it is difficult to extrapolate the results of these internal elections to those of November, the initial reading that these figures show is that that part of society attributed to the government the rigors of the pandemic that, in addition, made it forget the rigors of the four years of the horrific administration of Cambiemos during the presidency of Mauricio Macri.

With four or five more points of absenteeism than in the 2017 legislatures (the previous mid-term ones), it is also difficult to determine to what extent the explanations cover national policies, or the provincial realities or the way in which the policies have more influence nationals have reached each district.

In any case, the figures constitute a wake-up call for the two administrations because they show a drastic change with respect to those of just two years ago, when the difference in favor of the Frente de Todos was eight points. Although it is presumed that in the PASO or in the legislative elections, the vote tends to disperse, in this case, the result transforms the map of politics that had remained after the presidential elections.

If this scheme is confirmed for the November elections, the national government will have many difficulties to govern with a legislative minority, and in some way it will be opening the door to a new management of the right.

The strongest intervention to bring about a major shift in voting trends has undoubtedly been the pandemic. Although the government’s effort to deal with it managed to mitigate its effects, the economic problems it caused are also attributed to decisions by the Casa Rosada. Regarding health, it is perhaps where the official management was best visualized, with the multiplication of beds, the acquisition of vaccines and the vaccination program.

But inflation, the closure of shops due to health precautions, impediments to travel and vacations, and the fall in wages promoted a bad mood, a climate of protest, which ended up being expressed in a punishment vote for the left or the right.

Even when they perceived that the disastrous situation that this government inherited, added to the pandemic, made it very difficult for an improvement to be felt and the anger was focused with the one who governs. The improvement promised by the Frente de Todos could not be verified in a sufficient dimension.

Somehow, the vote was geared this time towards those who said the handling of the pandemic was bad. Those who assured that it was the longest quarantine in the world, that vaccines have an ideology, that vaccines were stolen, that there are no infections in schools, that the second dose did not arrive.

However, when compared to the rest of the world, Argentina is among the best performing countries, even when compared to the United States and Europe. In other words, there were many votes against those who best handled the pandemic. And it was forgotten that the Macrista government did not finish the hospitals, that it allowed the measles vaccines to rot, that it lowered the Ministry of Health to secretariat and that it cut the health budget by 25 percent.

But at the same time, the bad economic situation that he inherited from Macri did not leave a cushion or margin for the worsening that the pandemic added. If people were bad at that time, now they are worse, from broad sectors of the middle and upper middle class, to the majority of workers. Obviously, although it was recognized that this situation was not the responsibility of the government, it did not make a difference at that level.

Beyond the fixed percentage of votes that the right receives, the government will have to convince with concrete measures that it is the only one that can improve this situation for which it is not responsible. In this vote, the climate of anger caused many retirees to vote for those who had their retirement reduced by 13 percent by decree and took away free medicine. There were merchants who voted for those who increased their electricity and gas services three thousand percent and brought them to the brink of bankruptcy. And there were thousands of votes for straw puppet candidates like Baby Echecopar’s panelist, Carolina Losada, in Santa Fe, or a madman of interplanetary proposals like Javier Milei.

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