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06/11/2007 | Argentina - The coronation of Queen Cristina

The Economist Staff

WAS it a gallant gesture from a doting husband? Was it a pre-arranged dynastic compact, enabling him to return in 2011? Or was it that Néstor Kirchner knew that Argentina requires policies different from those he has adopted for the past four years?

 

Whatever the reason, since Mr Kirchner announced in July that he was standing aside in favour of his wife, there had been little doubt that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would become the first woman to be elected to her country's top job. Not so much a contest, the election on October 28th turned into the coronation of “Queen Cristina”, dubbed thus because of her regal manner.

There were both good and bad reasons for her victory. Back in 2001-02, Argentina suffered a horrific economic, financial, social and political collapse, involving a massive devaluation and the world's biggest sovereign debt default. Mr Kirchner has presided over a vigorous recovery in which poverty and unemployment have roughly halved. Many Argentines give him the credit for this—even though over the past two years he has recklessly allowed the economy to overheat. In other ways, too, Ms Fernández, the candidate, benefited unfairly from being Mrs Kirchner, the first lady: she made liberal use of the presidential plane, for example. Still, Ms Fernández's mandate is clear. What she intends to do with it, however, is not.

Several things need to change if Argentina's recovery is to be sustained. Understandably, Mr Kirchner gave absolute priority to economic growth. When inflation started to rise, his government tried to smother it by controlling prices and fiddling the numbers. Inflation is hitting the incomes of the poor. Many economists believe it is roughly double the official rate of 9%. Meanwhile, Mr Kirchner's freeze on most energy tariffs is a wasteful subsidy that has contributed to occasional black-outs. Argentina also needs to engage with the outside world again, beyond Mr Kirchner's friendship with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, who has bought some $5 billion in Argentine government bonds. Queen Cristina's kingdom needs a range of friendly foreign investors to sustain growth.

Ms Fernández has dropped hints that she understands some of these issues rather better than her husband. She has travelled widely in the past few months. She seems likely to try to improve Argentina's relations with the United States—especially if Hillary Clinton, with whom she is sometimes compared, is elected there—and with Europe.

A looming encounter with reality

But her presidency will turn on whether or not she secures a soft landing for the economy, controlling inflation and steering growth to a sustainable 4-5% a year. There is still time to do this gradually. But some of the measures required—reining in public spending, raising interest rates and energy tariffs—will not be popular. Her failure during the campaign to prepare Argentines for what lies ahead will not help her.

In victory, Ms Fernández called for an end to hatred and confrontation. She could start by recognising that not everything that happened in the 1990s, when Carlos Menem privatised and modernised Argentina's economy, was bad. Mr Kirchner's attempt to undo Mr Menem's work by setting up new state companies looks like a waste of public money. More open politics would be welcome, too: Mr Kirchner's secretive government has incubated several corruption scandals.

Ms Fernández is basking in popularity. But to retain the voters' approbation, she needs sustained economic progress, and that means taking some unpopular decisions quickly. The new queen clearly has the support of her people. The question is whether she has the courage.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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26/08/2009|
21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House