18 December 2006

Schizo politics

Inspired by the curious characterization of Buenos Aires as a blue province in Good Airs, motivated in turn by Mike's push for an Argentine branch of Democrats Abroad, my mind turned to politics (again) and I decided to write about politics (again). Bear with me. I'll leave you Argento-Democrats alone. Just keep a low profile and try not to get Kirchnerized.

A visual image can be helpful understanding current Argentine politics. Imagine a political party is like an icecream flavour. You visit the United States, check the fridge, and there you have a chunk of icecream, half strawberry and half chocolate. The chocolate is strong, bitter, and has a lot of nuts in it. The strawberry is creamy, with a diversity of suspicious sparkles on it, and (until very recently) rather soft. Go to the Vatican, and you have a splendid white cupful of a single flavour, which might or might not be lemon-based; somewhere at the bottom of the cup there's a chunk of strawberry but the flavour is mostly lost. Go to Israel, and you have a huge cup mostly filled by two types of chocolate (these can be found also in Palestine, although of course both will deny they are the same brands of chocolate). Take Bolivia, and your icecream consists of a portion of mixed flavours topped by (and buried under) a gigantic serving of something that looks like chocolate but smells of old money; it's melting, but the bulk of it remains firm.

Argentina as an icecream is like one of those oversized frozen desserts you get for a child one he's being naughty and demands to have the largest icecream on Earth or else..., one of those supercups he'll attack with enthusiasm as first, then play with, and then abandon once his tummy is half-full and his lust for sugar is quenched or diverted to less sedentary pursuits. Picture one of those super-desserts, half-eaten, mixed and turned over, and then left to melt for several minutes in the summer. That's Argentine politics icecream-style.

You may think that this humorous portrait focuses on the chaotic nature of politics and ignores important factors such as ideology, pragmatism, and opportunism. I think it simplifies the issue. It's crucial to understand that no two political parties or factions in Argentina are guaranteed to stay apart forever. Moreover, most individual parties are like ever-active amoebas, their contours malleable and shifting all the time, and their selves always ready to divide, usually with some mutations.

Note, though, that unicellular organisms divide when they've grown enough, while many political parties in Argentina seem to do exactly the opposite. In particular (since we're doing the similes now) the Argentine left can be equated to a box filled only with electrons: everyone in there has a negative charge and seems unable to stay close to the rest. Some leftist parties seem content to exist in the highly scattered state that results (popularly known as ser cuatro gatos), while others do the evaporating black hole act: they emit increasingly louder complaints as they become smaller, and finally explode.

A few right-curious leftists are attracted by the other political forces and end up there, usually serving as decoration (cf Chacho Álvarez) or doing the dirty work (cf Luis D'Elía). As they speak up or prove uncontrollable, they either get fired or leave in a righteous spasm of honesty.

So why am I writing about the left after all? It's a very special day when two leftists meet, stick together and don't attack one another over minor interpretations of abstract concepts nobody cares about in real life. This is the case, for example, of Hermes Binner and Elisa Carrió. One understands that Binner, the Socialist former mayor of Rosario, national deputy and candidate for governor of Santa Fe, has nothing to lose and maybe a few votes to win by getting the support of Carrió's ARI, which she founded as (basically) a way to tell all other politicians in Argentina that they're immoral, corrupt and UNCLEAN!!; Carrió is moderately strong only in Buenos Aires City, where people actually have the time to listen to her ramblings, so it is a bit ridiculous of her to come with open arms to Binner saying that she'll support him "in exchange for nothing". Binner, who hasn't yet chosen a vice-governor candidate or formally started the campaign, leads the surveys and seems ready (without outside help) to become the first Socialist governor in the history of Argentina, and the first non-Peronist in Santa Fe after 23 years of a series of truly horrific administrations, with rulers whose best achievements have been to escape justice, to do nothing, to appoint relatives as judges, and to cut the ribbons of unfinished public works.

This was supposed to be a short post... But I'm not done! I'LL BE BACK!!

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