Primaries in Argentina: Categorical defeat of the Alberto Fernández government and great election of the Left Unity Front

This is an article written by the Partido Obrero (Workers’ Party), a Trotskyist organization in Argentina, originally published on September 12, 2021 on their website, Prensa Obrera.

1. Electoral results brought a categorical defeat of the national government and its candidates in almost all provinces. The magnitude of the defeat embraces all tendencies and cliques around pro-government political forces. The blow suffered by Alberto Fernández is only comparable with the one suffered by the vice-president Cristina Kirchner, who not only lost in Buenos Aires province which she controls through Governor Axel Kicillof, but also on her own turf of Santa Cruz. On the side of Sergio Massa, the other leader of the Frente de Todos coalition, his ally, the Governor Mariano Arcioni, also lost in Chubut, where there is an ongoing rebellion against his plans for the use of fracking in mining. The national vote of 31.6% is the worst election for Peronism since 1945. Peronism has lost votes on the right and on the left.

2. The defeat of the government should not surprise anyone. The direct result of its policies has been an acute crisis on all levels, from the sanitary situation to the socio-economic one. The austerity policy not only went against their voters’ mandate of leaving behind the “Macrista inheritance” but has also led to an increase of poverty, job insecurity and a greater devaluation of wages, retirement pensions and social spending. The government faced the electoral process focused on the agreement with the IMF, for which it sought an understanding with Macrismo. In spite of the maneuvers and manipulations of the economic process before the elections, industrial activity suffered a new downturn during the last month, confirming that we are facing a profound crisis which cannot be explained by the sanitary situation produced by the pandemic. Bondholders, creditors and capital bailout have become an unbearable load for the Argentinian people. There lays the key of Argentinian people reaching their limit. The persistent inflation, which all opinion polls placed as the most important concern of society, is the result of the deep imbalances of Argentina, and combines capital flight, public and private debt, the collapse of the Central Bank, the fiscal deficit and the bog down of economic activity which has prolonged itself for over a decade.

3. The setback of the candidates of the government and Peronismo was capitalized mainly by the right, going from “Juntos por el Cambio” to pseudo-fascist groups such as that of Milei. In the days prior to the elections all the spokesmen of the right joined in the demand of a labor reform which included, among other things, the elimination of compensation for dismissal and employer taxes, which inexorably leads to the underfunding of the Anses and new pension reforms. The Industrial Union and other employers subscribe to this agenda and propose that the government take it up as a part of the agreement with the IMF. A reform of this kind has achieved preliminary approval in the Brazilian Congress, promoted by Bolsonaro. An electoral triumph of the right will test the political capacity for action that they hold, because unlike the past it has gone to elections fragmented in several ballots, which have hurled very hard accusations at each other. Even though Buenos Aires City Government Head Horacio Rodríguez Larreta achieved his goal of a double triumph in Buenos Aires City and the province of Buenos Aires, he is still far from consolidating his leadership. Among the right there are strong differences regarding how to face the political crisis opened by the government’s setback.

4. All the trade union bureaucracy, from Hector Daer of the CGT, Hugo Moyano, Sergio Palazzo’s Corriente Federal, and all three fractions of the CTA, all fully assimilated to the government, erased from their participation in the electoral campaign all working class demands in the face of employers offensive towards labor reform, more labor insecurity and pension reforms and tax on workers. They have been a bulwark of the government, as all its sectors adapted to the demands of the employers, the right and the IMF. The Saint Cayetano Triumvirate (alliance of social movements sponsored by the Catholic Church and allied to the government), in their own way, played a role in contention by staging a march denouncing poverty on August 7th, but supporting the government with the old adage about not playing into the hands of the right. But nothing plays into the hands of the right like erasing worker’s demands and goals against the parties of the bosses. This logic was defeated on the 18th of August by the great mobilization of social and piquetero organizations, independent from the government, which went to the streets and displayed an agenda with demands regarding jobs, public works, popular housing, insurance for the unemployed, education for young people under the poverty line.

5. The defeat of the government opens up different scenarios, which go from an immediate cabinet change, an internal split or even the risk of a paralysis. The truth is that all Peronist fractions and Kirchnerismo agree on moving forward to an agreement with the IMF, which would implicate, among other points, labor and pension reforms, also demanded by the right of Juntos por el Cambio. Therefore, the possibility of a governability agreement between the government and Juntos por el Cambio to close a pact with the IMF cannot be dismissed, although a possibility like this could open a crisis within the right opposition. For the time being, Elisa Carrió already rejected this possibility. In advance, this would erase all real political ground for the government to force a scenario of political polarization and demand votes in order to defeat the right and stand for workers’ rights.

6. The great election of Javier Milei in Buenos Aires City expresses shows a variant of repudiation of the current regime, its parties and coalitions, being channeled by the right. The policy of Juntos por el Cambio, as well at of Fernandez’s Frente de Todos, was to assimilate this mandate to swing right. –The Frente de Izquierda-Unidad deserves the credit for having consistently faced against this pseudo-fascist expression.

7. In this context, the very good election performed by the Frente de Izquierda-Unidad has a very precise content: it places itself as the instrument of a mass pronouncement of workers against all pro-austerity coalitions, whether from the government or the opposition. It is a vote that reinforces employed and unemployed workers’ movements of struggle, the women’s movement, the environmental movements and the struggle of the youth. FIT-U has harvested more than one million votes throughout the country (emerging as the third national political force). The results achieved in many provinces are the highest in the last decade for the left, since the FIT was formed. This goes for the province of Buenos Aires, in which we are the third force, the City of Buenos Aires surpassing the 6%, in Jujuy going over 20%. In different provinces, the vote for the left politically expresses great popular mobilizations against the government’s austerity policy (Neuquén) and fracking (Chubut). The votes were important all around the country: in Santa Cruz, Córdoba, Catamarca, Río Negro, La Pampa, San Juan, etc. An unavoidable fact is that the FIT-U achieved its highest figures in the most exploited and poor municipalities and neighborhoods, expressing a political transition of very broad sectors that are breaking with Peronismo and joining the fight with the left. In those neighborhoods, the Polo Obrero carried out an enormous campaign, winning over thousands of comrades to the struggle for a socialist program. In the province of Buenos Aires not only are we near winning 3 congressmen/women and several province legislators, but also several seats on Municipal Councils. The results of 9% in Merlo, 8.5% in Moreno, 7.5% in La Matanza mark immediate goals for conquering political achievements. The second and third rings of the Buenos Aires metropolitan area have been the key of the great election in the Province, as in no other election of the left in the previous decades. This is a hedge of political influence among the working class which will reinforce the antibureacratic movement in labor. The electoral results of the Left Front constitute a mandate of a great portion of workers who voted the left which stood for a united front of class independence. The organizations which rejected this method have gotten very marginal and insignificant results within a context of an important increase of votes for the left in Argentina. This mandate which represents an important swing towards the Left Unity Front must be translated into a development of the class struggle, in the labor movement, in the run-down neighborhoods, in the movements of youth, women and gender diversity, this means building a workers and socialist alternative to confront the bourgeoisie and its parties.

8. The campaign we initiate towards the November elections will take place within a context of political crisis and a capitalist attempt to move forward against worker´s rights. The Partido Obrero and the Left Unity Front will promote a huge campaign against all attempts to move towards labor and pension reforms, we will stand up for compensation for dismissal, for an increase of wages and for an emergency payment of pensions, and for the repudiation of all agreements with the IMF. We will speak to the part of the population that did not vote in the primaries as a way of repudiating this regime and its political parties so that they join us with their vote, and turn disappointment and anger into support for a program of working-class and leftist solutions to the crisis.

National Executive Committee of the Partido Obrero (Worker’s Party)