The triumph of Mauricio Macri on Sunday’s run-off elections in Argentina marks the end of 12 years of “Kirchnerismo” in the country, a period characterized by populism, high levels of corruption and the corrosion of the country’s democratic institutions.
Macri won by a little less than three points though, which underscores that the country is deeply divided. He will not have a majority in Congress, which will force him to negotiate and search for consensus. This will not be an easy task given the levels of political confrontation inherited from the former administration but, at the same time, it will likely restore a healthy democratic dialogue that was completely absent in recent years.
One of the new government’s priorities will surely be to fix the economy (and for this they will need, among other things, to restore the country’s relationship with international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank; get into an agreement with the so called “vulture funds,” who have secured a judicial victory against Argentina in the United States, open up the economy–even if gradually; and let the exchange rate return to a “real” and credible value).
Other priorities will likely be to restore the rule of law and the balance of power between the country’s democratic institutions; dismantle and/or reform highly corrupt agencies associated with the state; and try to dismantle a huge clientelistic structure that has drained the resources of the state. Of course, job creation and the improvement of the health and education systems are top priorities as well.
Macri has presented himself during the campaign not as a savior or someone all-powerful but as a leader who will work together with many others in order to help people live better and achieve their goals. This is a very different political style than the one of his predecessor Cristina Kirchner, which was much more personalistic.
When it comes to foreign policy, this administration will probably strive to improve the country’s relations with the free world, including of course the United States, and to distance itself not only from the Latin American neo-communist bloc (which includes countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia) but also from regimes such as Russia, Syria and Iran.
Regarding the interests of the global Jewish community, I believe that we can safely say that the new government will work to invalidate the infamous Memorandum of Understanding signed by Cristina Kirchner with the Iranian regime, and will strive to make sure that the AMIA case doesn’t die. Also, because of the declarations made by many members of Macri’s inner circle, it is probably also safe to expect that they will work to make sure that the truth about the “mysterious” death of AMIA case Prosecutor Alberto Nisman finally comes to light. Relations with the State of Israel will very likely improve as well.
In sum, this election brought some fresh air to a country asphyxiated by corruption, clientelism and authoritarian rule. It is my sincere hope that the new administration is able to bring real change and put the country back in the path of the world’s real and modern democracies.
This article was previously published at the B’nai B’rith International website.