Argentina has a new president. And yet: Yesterday's election night, the most important political signal was probably from the current head of state Mauricio Macri. He admitted late in the evening his defeat, which turned out clearly with 40 to 48 percent of the vote, and invited his successor Alberto Fernández to the coffee. Now, the losing center-right man and the winning center-left man want to discuss "an orderly transition."
In South America, such a democratic transfer of power is not self-evident these days, as a glance at the neighboring countries shows. In Chile, hundreds of thousands of people went on the road on weekends. Over the past two weeks, police and armed forces have been rampaging against demonstrators, while protesters have plundered and strangled, and at least 19 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured.
In Bolivia, where a presidential election took place on 20 October, protests have been going on since then. Election observers and the opposition fear that reelected Left President Evo Morales has manipulated the results and unlawfully seized power. This is something that is familiar from another left-wing government in the region, in Venezuela, where the president Nicolás Maduro has largely abolished democracy since he was no longer able to win in free elections. He has also detained and tortured hundreds of dissenters.
In Brazil, the largest economic and political power in the continent, a right-wing president has ruled since the beginning of the year. Although he was democratically elected, but only after shortly before the election date the much more popular choice favorite Lula da Silva was put in prison. It was a bogus trial, the charge was for corruption, and the role of judges and prosecutors in this action and their political interdependence is being solved with great difficulty.
In many countries of South America, democracy is in danger. After years of disappointing economic development, people are deeply frustrated and authoritarian forces from left and right are gaining strength. But not so in Argentina. Alberto Fernández, the new man in the pink government seat of Buenos Aires, stands for the political center: farther left than the previous president, the liberal business Macri, but right in the middle of the democratic spectrum. You could almost describe him as a social democrat. Fernández came to power mainly because Macri did not keep his 2015 promise. The outgoing president gave himself as a "technocrat" and wanted to bring the economy back quickly. But that did not work.
The big capital flow never came
Macri advocates an orthodox economic policy, so spoke out for market openings, subsidy stops and austerity measures for the public budgets, which was both Argentiniern at times also a majority. But he got conspicuously little. The annual inflation rate is still above 30 percent, the economy is shrinking instead of growing, the unemployment rate has been around ten percent and poverty has increased.
Macri's followers defend him and say he could not do much in this era of tense world markets, lower commodity prices, and inherited total economic losses. He is seen by critics as a hapless political actor, initially reluctant to reform, and too quick to catch up later wanted and had to bow to the end of the pressure of the road. A big political taboo broke Macri when in 2018 he borrowed an unusually high $ 57 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was linked to tough austerity measures. Macri had insisted that his orthodox policy set an example for international investors: here you can invest again! But the large influx of capital never came.