Thursday, October 28, 2010

Succession suppression

The death of former president Néstor Kirchner is setting off a political earthquake in Argentina.  InfoLatam has a rundown on the power vacuum that Kirchner's death created, and there is no doubt that similar such analyses will be proliferating quickly.  Kirchner was such a force that questions will be raised not only about the leadership of the Partido Justicialista but also the 2011 presidential election.  He was widely seen as the future candidate, and now presumably Cristina Fernández will run for re-election.

A September poll had President Fernández with improved approval ratings, but still under 40 percent, whereas Kirchner's were routinely high.  She has simply never reached the levels of popularity that Kirchner enjoyed.  She has also faced the constant nuisance of a vice president who casts tie breaking votes against her.  From a strictly political perspective (not even taking into consideration the terrible personal toll this will take on her) she faces an even more difficult political context without his support.

As Steven Levitsky has argued, the reason the party has endured is because it is incredibly flexible, without a rigid hierarchy.  So the party structure is strong, but allows for movement within it.  And really, Kirchner was a relative unknown and became a political powerhouse, displacing Carlos Menem (who had pretty well self-destructed by that time) so someone else may well step into the vacuum and displace the Fernández-Kirchner machine.


mike a,  11:18 PM  

Note that Kirchner's death sent the Argentine stock market flying. So apparently not all of Argentina is actually grieving....

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