29 April 2009

Testimonial candidates, or, lying for Kirchner

In the past, people voted for parties. But the candidates were important. They were expected to support the party platform, but also to do things independently, since a party's legislative bloc is not a committee. Otherwise it would be simpler to choose one representative per party and give each a certain number of beans to represent their voting power.

When Resolution 125 was killed in the Senate, the Kirchners realized that legislators were not beans they could count and hold in their hands. But Cristina and Néstor still need their beans. Now they're dangerously close to losing the majority, they'll do anything to retain it, including the latest fad: "testimonial" candidates.

Testimonial candidates are the quintessential beans. They're not even expected to get elected and then vote as the party leader tells them: their only function is to bring in votes. They're expected to resign without even taking office and leave their place to their stand-ins and to the next ones in the list. This is so because testimonial candidates must perforce be highly visible characters with political influence, and these are already taken up, mostly at executive positions, so they're not to be "wasted" as mere beans.

A few weeks ago, Néstor Kirchner told a number of loyal governors and mayors of the Buenos Aires metropolitan area to run for legislative posts, with the understanding that they'd have to campaign and let their valuable names be placed in big bold letters at the top of ballots, but nothing else. They are to (unofficially) take a couple of months off from their government obligations and just get elected. Most of the mayors accepted to run for the post of city council member. Some said they wouldn't, but offered to put their spouses or children on the lists instead (that's advertising by association for you); after all it's not as if beans must know what to do once elected, except raise their hands at the appropriate moments. The governors weren't so obedient, but Daniel Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires, the largest and wealthiest province of Argentina, complied. He's now the best known of testimonial candidates.

Why "testimonial"? Well, the Kirchners believe (or want us to believe — it's not clear) that they're leading a movement based on a certain "model". El modelo is said to stand for a lot of very nice things, like wealth redistribution and social justice. It's like Christian salvation. Like religious believers, the governors and mayors are being told to testify. Their contribution to "the model" is to be where the leader tells them to, defending the bean count (i.e. the legislative majority). There's no need for them to take office; once the beans are in place, it doesn't matter who they are; in fact, it's better if they're not well-known, politically experienced people, as these tend to become ambitious on their own. The testimonial candidates just stand there saying "I support this model".

Whether this insulting farce will work or not, we'll see after June 28.


  1. Insulting farce or not I'm voting for him :(, the Kirchners seem to me as the least bad of an array of really bad options (then again I was in favor of the Resolution 125, so out views certainly differ).

  2. Depends on where you are, I guess. Here in Santa Fe at least we have alternatives that work (they work for me anyway). I don't know if I could bring myself to vote for, say, Lilita "Prophetess of Apocalypse" Carrió.

  3. yup, or for Francisco "Carlos Saul Menem" Narvaez.

    What are the choices in Sante Fe?

  4. The Socialists. Mind you, the candidate for the Senate is the one who ran with Lilita for vice-president... but most of the party is leftier than that. It's a front, actually, so there's some ideological mixture, but I prefer that to the excessively obedient K candidates, especially on the local level.

  5. Seems rational, I may be tempted to vote socialist if I was in Santa Fe, in fact i WOULD vote socialist if it wasnt for their opposition to Resolution 125 (how do you say "Retenciones" in English?)


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