While the 2016 American presidential primary cycle is heating up with fierce debates and mighty campaign videos, a race to the south of the equator is reaching its climax. The Argentine general presidential race will culminate with a runoff on November 22 between center-left candidate Daniel Scioli and the current mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri. Macri, as a “Republican Proposal” candidate, if elected, would change the trend of Peronist Kirchnerism that has reigned in Argentine politics since 2003. Macri is now ahead in the polls and the Argentine people seem to be ready for a change. Yet it would be unjust to bid current president Cristina Kirchner farewell without recognizing her flaws. And so our countdown begins:
5. Alberto Nisman’s Death—A Cover-Up?
On July 18, 1994, Iranian terrorists bombed Argentina’s largest Jewish organization. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman went on to investigate this act for over 10 years, claiming it was the result of efforts by Cristina Kirchner to improve trade benefits with Iran and Hezbollah through a series of furtive negotiations. On January 18 of this year, only four days after Nisman officially accused Kirchner of the cover-up (what he called a “criminal conspiracy”), he was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. He had even stated the previous day that he may not “get out of this alive.” While Hillary Clinton’s emails are the subject for overwhelming bipartisan scrutiny, online messages seem to pale in comparison to these accusations against Kirchner.
4. Her Twitter Game—Not So Strong
The tweet above was issued by Kirchner’s account after a trip to China for negotiations on economic agreements, and it translates to: “More than 1,000 participants at the event…Are they all from the Campola and only here for the lice and petloleum?” She is clearly alluding to the difficulty Chinese speakers may encounter in pronouncing “rice,” “petroleum,” and the “Campora”—the youth wing of her political party.
Here she calls out the American FBI, writing: “FMI+FBI against Argentina. Don’t be scared, the FBI is the International Vulture Fund.” Having already antagonized the Chinese, it is unclear what Kirchner hoped to accomplish with this jab, especially amidst the process of her country defaulting to several American banks.
3. Her Scientific Expertise
In 2012, as the quality of public high schools and universities in her country declined, Kirchner joked, “In high school, the only thing I learned was that water is H2O. That is as far as I got.” This surely comes as a message of reassurance for all Americans concerned about Barack Obama’s academic performance at Occidental. Following her short-lived career in chemistry, Kirchner took a stab at medicine. In a March 2013 speech, she stated, “Diabetes is a rich person’s illness, because they’re sedentary and eat a lot.” Let us also not forget the time when Kirchner praised the aphrodisiacal nature of barbecued pork, describing the perks of a heaping plate of barbecue for one’s sexual drive as stronger than those of Viagra.
2. Her Modesty
Donald Trump has created his campaign around a colossally egotistical persona, and some of Cristina’s more declarative remarks seem like self-promotion for Trump’s VP spot. After announcing changes to Argentine civil and commercial codes in March 2012, Kirchner felt “a bit like Napoleon” in the moment without a legislative body to oversee her actions. Kirchner seems to hold a special place for her 5 foot 6 French revolutionary, as she referenced Napoleon again—this time in comparison with her husband, Nestor—after paying off $5.9 Billion in bonds to the United States this past spring. “Who do you think paid the first share—Napoleon, Julius Caesar, or Nestor Kirchner?” she asked alongside then mayor of Buenos Aires Daniel Scioli. “Yep, you guessed it, Nestor Kirchner.”
While making not-so-PC comments about host countries and flubbing on scientific concepts certainly doesn’t boost popularity ratings, inflation may have been the most damaging crippling issue for Kirchner. Argentina has two measures of the peso, the country’s official currency. There is the stubbornly government-moderated “official” value, and then there is the “blue”—or black market—rate. Since 2011, there has been a notably increasing dichotomy between these two values, whose value gap now lies at a frightening 70%. This leaves either Scioli or Macri in an overwhelmingly difficult position as Argentina’s next president, having to compensate for these inflation figures to appease skeptical creditors worldwide. Many economists have predicted a depletion of the peso’s value to reduce inflation, and economic recession is probable.
Though Kirchner was never known to build bridges, she had little trouble building enemies. The race between Macri or Scioli (Kirchner’s hand-picked candidate) remains neck and neck, yet Macri’s recent jump in polls can only bode well for anti-Kirchner hopefuls in the upcoming runoff. Regardless of the election’s result, the Argentine people—crying tyranny and fascism out to the Andes—anxiously await an end to Kirchnerismo.