Who is Néstor Kirchner Argentina's new President?
Menem, for example, was openly announcing severe repressive measures in his TV adverts. Lpez Murphy the neoliberal candidate that the media invented few weeks before the election would have virtually destroyed what is left of public health and education, and also repressed the social movements with no mercy. That is why, in my opinion, the population showed up massively in the first round, to make sure those two candidates would not make it to the ballotage, thus leaving us with no option but a neoliberal authoritarian or an authoritarian neoliberal.
The progressive Elisa Carri, perhaps? People rightly perceived that, lacking a proper political base in most of the country, she was not ready to carry out the political program she proposes. What about the other Peronist candidate, Adolfo Rodrguez Sa? Well, he is an unpredictable adventurer, a clown with a weird bunch of followers, to say the least.
But does that mean a turn to the right comparing to the past? I do not think so. Kirchner is a relatively new face and has no criminal records or accusations for corruption (rather exceptional for a Peronist). Even when he belongs to the Peronist party, his language and style look more like that of the civilized progressive politicians of the late 1990s, and his was one of the only voices against Menems policies during the 1990s neoliberal euphoria.
But what is more striking is the speech Kirchner delivered the 14th of May, after it was known that Menem had pulled out, automatically making him the new president. Kirchner denounced it was a move from the economic establishment to deprive him of political legitimacy, so as to make his administration more open to corporate pressure. Thus, he launched an attack on the groups that hold economic power and benefited from inadmissible privileges in the last decade by corrupting politicians and ruining the lives of the citizens, while warning them that he would not give up his ideology for pragmatism after he takes office.
For the moment, of course, these are only discursive bubbles. It remains to be seen if Kirchner will actually change the rules of the game in any shape or form: in the past, Argentinean politicians have had no problems in doing exactly the opposite as they say. For the time being, the confirmation of Roberto Lavagna as minister of Finance seems to indicate a moderate but firm approach to the economy. Lavagna is indeed the first Argentinean minister to actually negotiate (as opposed to agreeing a priori) with the IMF since the mid 1980s, and he has already announced that the social situation would be his priority number one, whilst financial corporations would have to adapt to new rules: higher taxes, lower prices, no more unduly state subsidies.
The future is still open.