Take physic, pomp

From a Porteño Viewpoint: Elisa Carrió

Regular guest blogger ‘El Porteño’ has the bit between his teeth these last few days. This post from the centre of the known universe (at least that’s what porteños believe) takes a look at Elisa Carrió, long time socialist-leaning opposition politico and one of the most famoous figures in Argentine politics (here’s her English language wikipedia page for some more basic background). “Lilita” is an interesting case study and gives an excellent window on the wider world of Argentine politics. So let’s hand it over to El Porteño.

Lilita Carrió considers herself the leader of the opposition. She comes from an upper-middle class family in the Chaco region of North Argentina. She had a brilliant career as a lawyer and university professor of law until she decided to take an active role in the Radical Party. She became famous for her parliamentary work during the Menem government by denouncing many cases of corruption. A practising Catholic, she has made her religion into a banner and tries to project an image of martyr and fighter against corruption and the political and economic powers. According to her, she has received death threats but her religious faith has always been stronger than “the mafias”. She considers herself “enlightened” and destined to “save the Nation” and construct a “wonderful country” (between quotes all her own phrases).

I have voted for her many times. Her discourse is solid and she is has a well-trained intellect. She is a very good speaker and excellent in debates. Up until a few years ago she was very strong in the capital city and the large provincial cities (Rosario, Cordoba etc). I and many other people always voted for her knowing that she wasn’t going to win. We voted for her to bother the powers of the day. At her peak she got more than 20% of the popular vote on a nationwide scale. That’s a lot.

She has many weak points:
Her apocalyptic discourse is now tired. She always forecasting disasters that never happen and the Kirchner bonanza years (2003-2008) left her out in the cold. Deep down she may be right, but her overpowering manner of predicting the future doesn’t win her votes. Now she’s changing her tack and says she is an optimist.

She doesn’t have leadership qualities and can’t get enough party backing. There have already been many party members that joined with her only to later resign because she is too ‘personalist’. She feels the need to be leader at all times, she’s incapable of delegating and promoting new party figures from below. The saying is that “nobody grows next to Carrió”. She projects the negative image of not being able to form a government; a government needs more than 5,000 posts filled and she doesn’t even have 20 faithfuls.

Politically she was always the leader of the progressive electorate, always very worried about poverty and with some promises and policies that were almost ‘revolutionary’. All this is now in the past and she has taken a sharp turn to the right. I think she’s jealous of Macri, watching him and his pragmatic image grow and grow. She knows that many that voted for her before are tired of her intellectual speechifying. “People want more governance and less words”, she recently said.

But she has never governed anything. A lot of people criticize her because she should have won and governed Buenos Aires city first. She had a very good chance of winning in the capital but she considered it a distraction at that time. Repairing potholes and collecting refuse would have been minor tasks for her. But as I said before, the people want governance, they want solutions to their daily problems. “High politics” is something for the 1970s.

And now she is allied with the conservatives. Prat Gay* would be her economy minister, she’s trying to form an alliance with Lopez Murphy**, and also with Macri***. All these alliances are hard to take seriously. I don’t know who is the real Carrió any longer; the ultra-moral Catholic martyr or the modern, flexible and pragmatic politician.

I’m going to vote for Pino Solanas.

Firma y sello, El Porteño

* Alfonso Prat Gay (yes, that’s his real name) ex JP Morgan analyst, ex-Argentine Central Bank president etc
**Ricardo Lopez-Murphy, ex FinMin, classic right wing conservative
***see prevous porteño post here

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