Yesterday, Argentinians elected a conservative to be their new President. Mauricio Macri won 51.5% of the vote against 48.5% for Daniel Scioli, the handpicked candidate of Cristina Fernandez who along with her late husband Nestor Kirchner had ruled Argentina for the past dozen years. Macri is due to take office next month.
This cannot come soon enough. Back in January, Fernandez made the headlines after the country’s top prosecutor was found dead in his apartment of a gunshot wound to his head the day before he was to testify to parliament about the role of Fernandez and other top government officials to work in concert with the government of Iran to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center of Buenos Aires which claimed the lives of 85 people. Argentinians took to the streets in protest bearing signs “Yo Soy Nisman” in homage to “Je Suis Charlie”. After initially claiming Nisman committed suicide, Fernandez not so subtlety suggested that Israel could have been responsible for Nisman’s death.
Macri vows to improve relations with the U.S. and other Western countries and distance Argentina from left-wing regimes such as Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. He also vows to implement economic reforms such as removing currency, capital and price controls which has resulted in an inflation rate of 30% and a thriving black market.
All of this sounds good. But Argentinians’ tears of joy might be shortlived as the Peronists still control both houses in the Chamber of Deputies. It will be interesting to see how much executive authority Macri is prepared to exercise. Even if Macri does get even some of his reforms through there is bound to be more pain as prices are bound up to shoot back up. No matter how you look at it, things in Argentina are bound to get worse before they getter. Unfortunately, it never seems to get better.