On Sunday evening, Argentina elected the man who would take over the president’s mansion in the stunning capital of Buenos Aires.
Taking over from outgoing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Mauricio Macri carefully slid into victory in the runoff elections that took place on Sunday evening. Fernandez de Kirchner, together with her husband, served a combined three terms. She and her late husband, Nestor, brought socialism to the nation’s economy.
Mauricio Macri is a former businessman and the son of a prominent Italian entrepreneur. Before running for president, he also served two terms as the mayor of Buenos Aires. He won 51.4 percent of the vote on Sunday to his opponent’s 48.60 percent of the total vote.
The new president is in a precarious position. Under previous leadership, the country shut itself out of the global market. It did so by nationalizing almost every industry in Argentina. Its pension system, oil, and airlines all became state property under the Kirchners’ reign. This was an attempt to help relieve Argentina’s malfunctioning economy.
Macri offers a new alternative to the old order. He ran on the idea that he could reduce poverty as well as the previous socialist policies. All the while, he will be growing the economy by reintroducing Argentina to the world.
A re-entry to the global markets will help boost investment into Argentina. This investment would promote economic growth.
But an overnight change is not likely. President-elect Macri will be sworn into office next month in Buenos Aires. But he will continue to face serious opposition from those who would prefer that life in Argentina remained the same. When combined with economic problems, his first year could be a difficult one.
For the past 70 years, Argentina has been governed by the Peronist party.
Founded by Juan Domingo Peron, a national hero, party members have governed divisively in the past. Past governments have also been known to fib regarding the actual state of the nation’s economy.
These policies were recently penalized in 2013 by the IMF because of poor accounting practices.
It is not just his economic policies that set Macri apart from many of his predecessors. The outgoing president has had ties to the Venezuelan regime. When he takes office in Buenos Aires, Macri intends to ask the Organization of American States to condemn Venezuela, citing a disregard for human rights.
His critics cite that Macri’s presidency will ruin the country. Peronist rivals say that he will undoubtedly return Argentina to the economic crises of the 20th century. Should he fail, he may end up like his three non-Peronist predecessors.
Arturo Illia was removed from power during a 1966 coup. Raul Alfonsin was forced to resign in 1989. Fernando de le Rua fled the presidential palace via helicopter in 2001.
But it is not all doom and gloom. If Macri can help heal the class divides that previous regimes helped to create, he may have a shot at a more inclusive Argentina.
In a news conference on Monday morning from Buenos Aires, he asked the country not to leave him alone in the palace. He called on the citizens of Argentina to help the government to solve problems by wanting it to solve problems.
For Macri to succeed, he needs to bank on the idea that Argentina has changed. To change the way the country is governed, he needs to rely on the ability of Argentinians to offer dialogue over drama. He also needs to understand the minefield that the previous administration is leaving behind.
It appears that Buenos Aires could be setting a new course through history if only its politicians and populace will let it.
[Photo By Mario Tama/Getty Images News]