It’s been a weird week for Cristina Kirchner and the country of Argentina. Not only will the country be swapping out the populist policies of Cristina and her husband, Néstor, that have dominated the country for the last 12 years, but in her place, conservative reformist Mauricio Macri will assume power — a new leader who characterized his entire run around breaking away from what came before.
Kirchner is well-aware that this breakaway has wrecked the morale of her core group of adherents. Kirchneristas, the name given to those who put their trust in Cristina to put Argentina on the right track, were horrified to see her chosen successor, Daniel Scioli, lose by around 700,000 votes in November’s general elections. Since that heavy blow, Kirchner has handled the final weeks of her presidency in a way that might be considered unprofessional at best, and downright shameful at worst.
In fact, Cristina won’t be there to see Mauricio take over. After a week of angry phone calls and public disses, Kirchner will break from tradition by not only refusing to hand over the presidential sash and baton to Mauricio, but to skip town on the ceremony altogether — citing a previous engagement involving her daughter, Alicia, in the south of Argentina. In addition to this move, Cristina has also taken over the official Casa Rosada (Argentina’s White House) Twitter, saying she will not be handing it over when Macri takes office.
Those familiar with the outgoing president’s image might not be terribly surprised by these actions. It’s not like Cristina was ever known for being an especially decorous head of state. Once while visiting China, Kirchner wrote a tweet mocking the thick Asian accent, asking her followers if attendees to an event had come for the free “wice (rice) and gasoween (gasoline).”
Más de 1.000 asistentes al evento… ¿Serán todos de “La Cámpola” y vinieron sólo por el aloz y el petlóleo? …
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) February 4, 2015
Yet, it’s the same irreverence that has also made Cristina so beloved for many. Unafraid of appearing unrefined, she joked before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of her supporters Wednesday evening that when she finished her term at midnight she “would turn into a pumpkin.” The crowd roared; once again Kirchner killed. The president who tweeted, joked, and took over national television airwaves for lengthy speeches with increasing frequency ended with what she had always promised her followers — strength and an unwillingness to give in.
Una Plaza para CFK. pic.twitter.com/iqarQ4YyR4
— Casa Rosada2003-2015 (@CasaRosadaAR) December 10, 2015
That stubbornness, however, has also managed to tarnish her exit for anyone who was still on the fence. Cristina brought things to a close with a series of hard lefts, moves that many in the Argentine press and public saw as an attempt to make things as difficult as possible for Macri when he takes the reins on Thursday. That began when Kirchner insisted that the inauguration ceremony for Mauricio would not be taking place in the Casa Rosada, but in the country’s Congress — following the Constitution, but breaking the tradition of where both she and her husband Néstor had taken the office.
Macri didn’t like that. So much, in fact, that the pair shot back and forth at each other in the press, trying to make the other sound like the childish one. Cristina ramped up the classlessness when she published a long-winded blog post, accusing Mauricio of calling her to “scream at and threaten” her, something Kirchner noted was unbefitting for a man to do to a woman.
“I want to remind the incoming president of a few things… one being that Dec. 10 is not his birthday party but the day that president of all Argentines assumes his office in a democratic system and that the greatest symbol of that is the Legislative Assembly, where the the one finishing their term will pass it on to him.”
Cristina Kirchner officially lost her mandate Wednesday evening at midnight after legal action ended up bumping her exit a touch earlier than usual out of fear that she would not abdicate in a timely fashion. Despite that, the controversial figure will definitely be staying firmly front and center in the country’s politics, despite no longer holding the titular office. Whether or not that’s a comfort or a headache depends on just how much you believe in Kirchnerismo.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]