Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

President of Argentina Easily Prevails in Primary Election

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on August 15, 2011

by Charles Newbery for The New York Times, August 15th, 2011.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner far outpolled her rivals on Sunday in Argentina’s first national primary, suggesting that she is likely to win re-election easily in the vote on Oct. 23.

To avoid a runoff, the winning candidate in October must get at least 45 percent of the vote, or at least 40 percent with a lead of 10 points or more over the closest contender. Early results in the primary indicated that Mrs. Kirchner, 58, had handily exceeded those thresholds, winning 49 percent of the vote. Ricardo Alfonsín of the centrist Radical Civic Union Party was second with 13 percent of the votes, while a former president, Eduardo Duhalde of a conservative faction of the Peronist Party, was third, with 12 percent.

Voting was mandatory, and people could cast their ballot for any candidate regardless of party affiliation. (continue reading… )

President of Argentina Easily Prevails in Primary Election

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Argentina Update: Election Outlook

Posted in Uncategorized by politicalrisklatam on July 28, 2011

by Juan Cruz Díaz for Americas Society / Council of the Americas, July 27th, 2011.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner continues to dominate the political realm in terms of popularity as the presidential October 23 election approaches. After her husband, ex-President Néstor Kirchner, passed away in October of 2010, her approval ratings skyrocketed and remained at a relatively high rate. The outcomes of various regional elections earlier this year also showcased her wide-reaching influence. However, recent adverse electoral results for the ruling Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) party in the city of Buenos Aires and in the province of Santa Fe—two crucial districts—signal discontent among some sectors of the electorate.

Local Elections and Their Impact on the Presidential Race

Mayor Mauricio Macri from the Propuesta Republicana (PRO) comfortably won the July 10 first round of the local elections in the city of Buenos Aires against FPV’s Senator Daniel Filmus, and will most likely win again in the runoff elections slated for July 31. In Santa Fe, Antonio Bonfatti, protégé of the Governor and Socialist Party presidential candidate Hermes Binner, won the gubernatorial elections by a small margin. The wild card of that vote was comedian Miguel Del Sel, who ran for governor as a representative of the PRO party with the support of a large sector of dissident Peronists. Though a runner up, Del Sel’s performance was considered the surprise of the day when he pulled in 35.2 percent of the ballots. Macri, who abandoned his candidacy for this year’s presidential elections, claimed this result as a personal victory, positioning himself as a candidate for president in 2015. The FPV candidate Congressman Agustin Rossi finished in a distant third place.

Opposition leaders portrayed these results as a demonstration that the current administration is not invincible, questioning the validity of opinion polls that depict an easy reelection victory for Fernández de Kirchner (frequently referred to by her initials CFK). While it is true that both Macri and Bonfatti were the expected winners in those local elections, some observers see the results as a window of opportunity for the opposition to become serious contenders for presidency. Still, the opposition remains divided between five main candidates and none poll well enough to currently be seen as a threat to the president. CFK leads all opinion polls and, in most surveys, even tops the requisite 45 percent—or 40 percent plus 10 percent difference with the second-place candidate—needed in order to win in the first round. (continue reading… )

Fotografía de la Campaña Presidencial Argentina

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on April 12, 2011

por Juan Cruz Díaz para Americas Quarterly Online, Abril 12, 2011.

La carrera electoral argentina de 2011 está comenzando a tomar un mayor ritmo a medida que las candidaturas están más definidas. Si bien no lo ha anunciado oficialmente, pocas dudas quedan sobre la candidatura de la Presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) para las elecciones de octubre. Los trascendidos de una eventual candidatura presidencial del Gobernador Daniel Scioli por el sector oficialista (Frente Para la Victoria—FPV) se han desdibujado totalmente. La popularidad de CFK ha tenido altibajos y su gobierno no ha estado exento de crisis, pero hoy su imagen y candidatura generan una adhesión importante en todas las encuestas, posicionándola como la candidata con más posibilidades en las elecciones.

Del lado opositor las cosas no están tan pacificas. Tanto la Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) como el Peronismo Federal (PF) están teniendo intensas discusiones internas y aún no logran definir un candidato. Aunque es cierto que con la decisión del actual Vicepresidente Julio Cobos de no competir en estas elecciones, el camino hacia la candidatura de Ricardo Alfonsín (hijo del ex Presidente Raúl Alfonsín) es cada vez más claro; el Senador Ernesto Sanz aún le disputa la candidatura. La interna de la UCR tuvo una importante ruptura hace algunos días cuando el Senador Sanz decidió no competir en la pre-interna que habían pactado con Alfonsín y presentarse directamente a las primarias oficiales del mes de agosto. Todo eso dejó al desnudo las discrepancias de existentes en ese partido. De todas maneras, Sanz debe trabajar mucho para lograr arrebatarle la candidatura a Alfonsín, a quien algunos acusan de ser el candidato opositor preferido del actual gobierno. Como están dadas las cosas, todo indica que Alfonsín será el candidato de la UCR e intentará formar una alianza con el gobernador socialista de Santa Fé, Hermes Binner, para la fórmula presidencial.

En el caso del PF, de los cuatro candidatos iniciales (Eduardo Duhalde, Adolfo Rodríguez Saa, Mario Das Neves y Felipe Solá), solo dos (Duhalde y Rodríguez Saa) están actualmente compitiendo en la pre-interna pactada. El Diputado Solá ha dicho que piensa competir con su propio partido, aunque también se menciona la posibilidad que se una a otras fuerzas políticas menores. El Gobernador Das Neves, ha sufrido un golpe casi definitivo luego de las escandalosas elecciones locales en su provincia, que aún esperan definición y lo dejaron muy vulnerable y debilitado. En tanto, la primera elección de la serie de pre-internas del PF entre Duhalde y Rodríguez Saa resultó en un empate técnico, donde ambos obtuvieron la misma cantidad de delegados. Ni de los dichos de los analistas ni de las encuestas surge que hoy el PF por si solo sea un contrincante de peso para CFK en las elecciones presidenciales.

Dos candidatos presidenciales con mucho impacto en los medios—e incluso en cierto sentido en la definición de la agenda política—como Elisa Carrió (Coalición Cívica—CC) y Fernando “Pino” Solanas (Proyecto Sur—PS) no logran presentarse como una opción contundente, profundizando la atomización de la oposición. Los intentos por convencer a la Diputada Carrió (que obtuvo un 22 por ciento de los votos en las pasadas elecciones) para unirse a la UCR en un frente que los haga más competitivos, no parece que serán exitosos. Carrió parece convencida a continuar sin alianzas, e incluso fue la primera candidata en presentar una fórmula con su candidato a Vicepresidente, el Diputado Adrián Pérez (una figura emergente de la política argentina). Por su parte, el Diputado Solanas parece debatirse—aunque públicamente no lo acepta—entre la conveniencia de ser candidato presidencial o competir por la jefatura de gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. De todas maneras, tanto Carrió como Solanas individualmente no parecen ser una opción que esté en condiciones de alcanzar un caudal de votos para preocupar a CFK.

Finalmente, el candidato que—junto con Alfonsín—confía  en forzar a CFK a una segunda vuelta es el actual Jefe de Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires y candidato presidencial por el PRO, Mauricio Macri. El Jefe de Gobierno es uno de los candidatos que más se ha animado a confrontar directamente con CFK, y tanto él como gobierno nacional no han dudado en presentarse como fuerzas antagónicas. Tiene a su favor que es el líder indiscutido de su propio partido y no tiene el desgaste de la competencia interna, pero en su contra tiene el desgate de una gestión de gobierno local con complicaciones y la falta de presencia en todos los distritos del país. Incluso los rumores persistentes sobre la posibilidad de que decida competir para una reelección como jefe de gobierno, no ayudan a la consolidación de su figura como un candidato presidencial de peso. De todas formas, y según buena parte de las encuestas disponibles, Macri y Alfonsín, serían hoy los mejores posicionados entre la oposición, aunque siguen lejos de CFK.

Esto no significa que las cosas ya estén definidas. Aún falta mucho tiempo y con la definición de los candidatos opositores,  éstos tienen la oportunidad de crecer y fortalecerse ante el electorado. Además, CFK puede ser vulnerable a las contingencias propias de la responsabilidad de gobernar el país, y sufrir algunos efectos adversos inesperados. También, el gobierno es susceptible de cometer errores no forzados que debiliten la candidatura y las posibilidades de CFK para Octubre.

Hoy CFK se encuentra liderando la carrera con un importante margen, y la oposición parece enroscada en un juego que no los ayuda a robustecerse. Pero a no apurarse, todavía falta mucho y las sorpresas pueden llegar.

 

Cristina Fernandez election campaign takes off with a resounding success

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 15, 2011

by Merco Press News, March 15th, 2011.

A surprise ruling party victory in Argentina’s first provincial election of the year gives President Cristina Fernandez a boost before her likely re-election bid in October. CFK ally Lucia Corpacci ousted the current governor of Catamarca province, who sought a third term in Sunday’s vote.

She will govern the sparsely populated north-western province, where an opposition coalition ruled for 20 years. Catamarca is home to just 368,000 of Argentina’s 40.1 million inhabitants.

Government officials painted the victory as a show of support for the president and her policies aimed at swift economic growth. Opposition leaders said it was more a vote against politicians who try to stay in power indefinitely.

“Objectively, the election is not very relevant because Catamarca is marginal,” said political analyst Manuel Mora y Araujo. “But it will be exploited to the president’s benefit.”
He added that President Cristina Kirchner’s campaigning in Catamarca had a positive impact since her approval ratings are good. (continue reading… )


Argentina politics: Unrest tests the president

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 13, 2011

by The Economist Intelligence Unit, January 10th, 2011.

The period of relative calm that followed the death of former president Néstor Kirchner, the husband of President Cristina Fernández, ended abruptly with a surge in social unrest in December. The episode has highlighted that all is not well in Argentina, despite years of generous public spending and fast-paced economic growth. It has also presented Ms Fernández with her first major challenge since her husband’s death in October, and raises concerns about governability in the run-up to this year’s presidential election.

Early in December, around 200 squatter families (mostly immigrants from Bolivia and Paraguay) demanding public housing moved into Parque Indoamericano, the second biggest park in the city of Buenos Aires, which is located in the poor neighbourhood of Villa Soldati. Subsequent violent clashes between the police and the squatters, and also between squatters and residents of Villa Soldati, resulted in four deaths. It also triggered a cabinet reshuffle and the creation of a new Ministry of Security.

In an unrelated but still worrisome incident, a few weeks later there were violent clashes between train passengers and policemen when the passengers were not allowed to board trains due to a protest led by train workers.

With the presidential election set for October, government officials have linked such unrest to the beginning of the electoral campaign. In particular, they have accused a former president and possible opposition presidential candidate, Eduardo Duhalde, of trying to destabilise the government, though there is no evidence to support the claim. The issue could become increasingly politicised and trigger more disputes between the government and rivals to Ms Fernández, although she has yet to reveal whether she will run for re-election. (continue reading… )

 

Argentina: goodbye, Néstor; hello, IMF

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on December 6, 2010

by Jude Webber for Financial Times – Beyond Brics, December 6th, 2010.

What Argentina would really like for Christmas is for all the fuss about its discredited inflation figures simply to go away, for the IMF to leave it alone, and for western creditor countries to agree to their debts being repaid in no particular hurry.

That looks as unlikely as a white Christmas in Buenos Aires. So the government took the surprise step last month of inviting the IMF to help it devise a nationwide inflation index – a move widely seen as a way of deflecting the focus from the current index, which even officials privately acknowledge is distorted. The IMF team arrives on Wednesday for what will be Argentina’s first dealings with the lender for almost five years.

In January 2006, the late former president, Néstor Kirchner, paid up Argentina’s dues and thundered there was “no way in hell” the country would return to an institution widely blamed by locals for prescribing policies that led to its ruinous default in 2001. (continue reading… )

 

Argentina’s 2011 presidential election: a Peronist party dispute, forecasts analyst

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 30, 2010

by Merco Press News, November 30th, 2010.

The most probable political scenario for Argentina’s October 2011 presidential election is a run-off between two candidates from the hegemonic Justicialista party, centre left and centre right, according to Argentine historian and political analyst Rosendo Fraga.

The expert was invited to Montevideo by the Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce and Services and the Uruguayan International Relations Council, to give a conference on the Argentine political outlook a month after the death of former president Nestor Kirchner, the country’s most influential leader as recognized by friends and foes.

“A month ago the president in the run off would have been opposition candidate Raul Alfonsín. If elections were held today, President Cristina Kirchner would repeat. In the coming eleven months the most probable scenario is for two (ruling party) Peronists to dispute the run off”, said Fraga.

He added that “the most probable incumbent candidate will be President Cristina Kirchner, although Daniel Scioli, the second most important figure in the ruling Peronist Party and governor of the decisive Buenos Aires province, revealed it’s not clear whether Mrs Kirchner will effectively be running”. (continue reading… )


Argentina Glacier Law Threatens To Put Mine Exploration On Ice

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 17, 2010

by Shane Romig for Dow Jones Newswires, November 15th, 2010.

Argentina’s new glacier protection law has put a chill on mining exploration in the country’s mountainous regions and is fueling legal challenges from provinces and miners who say the federal government has overstepped its authority.  At the end of September, Congress passed legislation that limits economic activity in the areas surrounding glaciers and gave the federal government the job of identifying and protecting the country’s glaciers. The bill was signed into law by President Cristina Fernandez.

Experts agree that the glacier law is clearly aimed at the mining industry. “Skepticism of the industry’s benefits to society is widespread, particularly in the cities, while many people in remote, underdeveloped provinces resent the wealthier urban residents blocking them from developing their natural resources”, said Juan Cruz Diaz, director of the consultancy Cefeidas.

The conflict hinges on the definition of the so-called peri-glacial areas protected by the law, which could be limited to a tight perimeter around the glaciers or extended to half the country if given the most expansive reading. That uncertainty is proving too much for some companies exploring for new mineral deposits, although those moving forward with projects are confident that they won’t be affected.

Mining-friendly San Juan Province stands to lose $35 million of exploration investment this summer, which runs from December to March, Marcelo Carlos Ghiglione, San Juan province’s subsecretary for environmental management and mining policy, said in an interview. While that drop isn’t enormous, the industry is more worried about the following summer, when exploration is expected to be significantly impacted if the issue isn’t cleared up, Ghiglione said.

The federal government still needs to issue the regulations implementing the glacier law, which are expected to go a long way to defining its practical effects, but the provinces aren’t waiting. Several provinces are claiming that the law is an unconstitutional breach of their right to manage their own natural resources and they are backing efforts to have the law struck down in court.

Argentina’s constitution limits the federal government to setting the basic standards for environmental protection, but leaves the implementation of those standards to the provinces. However, the courts have yet to clearly define the fine line between state and federal rights. San Juan has its own glacier law and “we’re going to defend our right to manage both the environment and mining” in the province, Ghiglione said.

Earlier this month, a handful of labor and mining chambers got a federal judge in San Juan province to block the key provisions of the law until the Supreme Court can rule on its validity. Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX, ABX.T) convinced the same judge to suspend the glacier law with regards to its $3 billion Pascua Lama gold and silver mine under construction in the province and it’s nearby Veladero mine.

Barrick spokesman Rodrigo Jimenez said that its projects didn’t take place on glaciers, but that the company filed the lawsuit just in case. “We are legally entitled to continue our current activities on the basis of existing approvals, and we are seeking legal recognition of this position as a precautionary measure,” Jimenez wrote in an email.

But the glacier law could be a potent weapon for environmental groups seeking to block and stall mining development. “Exploration is definitely going to slow down until we see how this is resolved,” said Ignacio Randle, mining attorney at the firm bearing his name. “This needs to be settled one way or another, as investors want certainty.”

CFK admits “incredible painful time” but will carry on with her duties

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 2, 2010

by Merco Press, Novemeber 2nd, 2010.

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spoke Monday at Government House and addressed, for the first time, the death of her husband and ex President Néstor Kirchner.

In a five-minute national address CFK said that she wished to thank everyone who reached out and showed their support during an “incredibly painful time.” “I’ve had many difficulties in the political life. But pain is something else and this kind is the strongest, because I have lost my life partner. A part of my life left with him. I want to thank all the men and women that marched to see and bid farewell to Néstor Kirchner,” she said.

“Let me tell you all that I feel the need to carry on, in the name of his memory, all of my duties as president” of this country, she said during a very emotional moment. The president had earlier thanked the thousands of people who paid their respects by wanting to see him or praying for him. People gave rosary beads, flowers and soccer jerseys that “I will keep”, she said. “I want to thank that immense and formidable display of affection and love, which he deserved,” she said.

Referring to youths who sang and marched in memory of Nestor Kirchner, CFK said she saw her husband’s face reflected in theirs. But “those young kids are much luckier than he was when he was young because they’re in a country that is much, much better,” she said. ”This is a country that loves them, that needs them and a country which we will continue to build among all of us”. (continue reading… )

Fernandez Makes Peso the Only Loser in Emerging Markets: Argentina Credit

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on September 27, 2010

by Drew Benson and Ben Bain for Bloomberg, September 27th, 2010.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ’s efforts to weaken the peso are working, while policy makers in emerging markets from Brazil to South Africa fail to curb currency rallies.

The peso has declined 0.7 percent in the past three months against the dollar, the only retreat among 25 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. South Africa’s rand gained 8.9 percent and Brazil’s real rose 4.2 percent even as their central banks stepped up dollar purchases to stem the appreciation.

Argentine central bank President Mercedes Marco del Pont said Sept. 2 that the institution seeks to maintain a “competitive” exchange rate after dollar inflows climbed to a two-year high of $392 million in the second quarter, the second time since 2008 that flows were positive. The bank, which doesn’t target a benchmark lending rate, buys dollars in the local foreign exchange market and limits appreciation by requiring investors deposit 30 percent of the funds brought into the country for one year.

Argentina is “definitely bucking the trend because they’re able to intervene aggressively,” said Aryam Vazquez, an economist with Wells Fargo & Co. in New York. “It’s a little bit more challenging for a country like Brazil, for example, which attracts a heavy amount of capital.” (continue reading… )