Argentina: The results of the primaries and the day after

By El Socialista, Socialist Left of Argentina and the IWU-FI

16 August 2023. The primaries on 13 August defined the candidates for the presidential elections on 22 October. The far-right-wing Milei won the most votes, channelling a large part of the popular dissatisfaction. Eleven million people did not vote and one million also expressed repudiation who did not cast their vote or cancelled it.

In a bad election, United for Change (JxC) came second and Patricia Bullrich was the winner. She defeated Rodríguez Larreta. The Peronist (UP) suffered a real debacle with Massa-Grabois, their worst election in history. Neither of the traditional coalitions of bosses won.

The FITU won almost 630,000 votes and the PTS-IS slate won the primaries, securing a spot among the five presidential candidates in October. Now we need to stand up against the government’s devaluation and strengthen the FITU to fight for the necessary changes for working people.

The far-right-wing Milei won and said, “I will have no problems with the IMF because the austerity plan I am preparing is much tougher than their requirements.”

The growth of Milei came as a surprise. He won 30 per cent of the total votes. The polls did not register this phenomenon. The defeats of Peronism and JxC provoked a political tremor with the emergence of a far-right-wing presidential candidate. His running mate as vice president is a supporter of Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship and has campaigned for the cessation of human rights trials. The government has to hold out until December applying the IMF’s austerity measures. We can predict new abrupt changes, both social and political.

The vote for Milei was nationwide, winning in 16 of the 24 districts, even where Peronism or JxC governed. He won the vote of young people (mainly men) from the popular and working-class sectors. Don’t vote for Milei. He is a far-right politician who offers fewer rights and more hunger. His “chainsaw plan” is against the working class, against women and dissidents, and against the youth. Patricia Bullrich is a JxC candidate who advocates for tough measures, which worries many people across society. Lali Esposito warned against voting for anti-rights while Catriel said he would have died if hospitals were all private.

How can this person be popular when he wants to take away free education, healthcare, and support organ sales? He also opposes abortion and suggests dollarising the economy which may destroy salaries and pensions?

This can only be explained by the disaster to which the various capitalist governments have led us, with more poverty and surrender, generating disappointment and weariness that end up capitalising on extremely dangerous characters like Milei, as Bolsonaro in Brazil, Vox in Spain or the ultra-right Katz in Chile, precisely those who congratulated him on his victory.

Milei represents far-right movements in this decadent capitalism and is against democracy, as we find in other countries. This movement is a rejection of the current democracy and the social disaster it has caused, even though different bosses’ parties have been in power over the past 40 years.

This vote to a far-right electoral variant like Milei is a contradictory vote, ranging from those who agree with some of his proposals, to others who do not share them but say “we won’t be worse off”, “we have already tried every one and they led us to disaster” and “let them all go”, believing in the midst of brutal confusion that Milei can fight the “thieving politicians” or that he represents “something new and different”. Such is the extent of the tremendous confusion and desperation that led to Milei. His voters believe he represents something new, when he represents those who have been governing us, because he supports the dictatorship and vindicates the Peronist government of the 1990s with Menem and Cavallo (whom many young people did not know). They led us into a disaster with thousands of redundancies, privatisations, a huge foreign debt and the pardon of the military coup perpetrators. That is why it is not just any “punishment vote”, but a retrograde, reactionary, anti-rights, misogynist and anti-worker character. We are calling to confront, on the streets and at the ballot box, giving the debate to the confused youth and popular sectors that voted for him. Many of them are backing down when they see all the bad things that his nefarious government programme represents.

Peronism made the worst election in history and Larreta-Morales were another of the big losers

The biggest loser was Peronism, with Sergio Massa at the head. Neither Alberto Fernandez nor Cristina appeared in the campaign, nor in the campaign bunker where Massa spoke several times, thanking Grabois, the collector who came forward to prevent a fringe from going to the left: without him, the result would probably have been worse. It also lost in Santa Cruz, the Kirchnerist land par excellence, where teachers suffer poverty wages from the governor Alicia Kirchner, who imposes austerity, persecutes and criminalises them in the best Macrista style.

Peronism lost five and a half million votes, taking twenty points less than in 2019 (27 versus 47per cent). Even where it won, as in the province of Buenos Aires, Governor Kicillof, who is running for re-election, lost 16 points with 1.5 million fewer votes. The fact is that the Frente de Todos (All’s Front) of the time (now UP) can only show more austerity, plunder and surrender to the IMF. A government that the day after the election devalued the peso by 22 per cent by the direct order of the IMF, which is already generating double-digit inflation for the coming months with the consequent loss of wages and pensions. This is Peronism today, in the 21st century, showing that it is not at all “national and popular”, as it falsely claims.

The government has already launched the campaign that we must support it in October so that “the right-wing does not win”. Of course, Milei and Bullrich are reprehensible and must be fought, but Peronism is not the tool. As Myriam Bregman said: “Under this government, the far-right has grown like never before”.

What would it be to “fight the right”? Fighting the right would have been to ignore Macri’s pact with the IMF and stop paying a usurious and fraudulent debt as we postulated from the FITU, not the opposite, as the Peronist government did.

To “fight the right” in Jujuy, for example, would be to do what the people of Jujuy are doing with the support of the FITU: to confront the surrendering and repressive constitutional reform of Gerardo Morales, not as Peronism did, which was complicit and even voted in favour of it. This same thing was seen under Macri’s government in 2015-2019, where only the workers, combative trade unionism and the left confronted the pension reform in December 2017 while Peronism voted for Macri’s laws and the CGT (General Central Union) was an accomplice of Macri’s austerity measures. We must not be fooled. Enough of double talk. The left is the only one that will continue to be consistent in confronting the austerity and repression of all governments, as we have always done, putting our militancy and our seats for it. This is a great lesson to be learned from the performance we have had in all these years.

The FITU made a good election, making the Bregman-del Caño ticket the only left-wing ticket among the five presidential candidates, calling for a fight in the struggles and in the elections.

A good election between the three bosses’ forces they got 86 per cent of the votes. The 628,893 votes it obtained are very valuable for continuing to strengthen the only alternative of the workers: combative trade unionism and the unity of the left to confront the candidates of austerity and the IMF.

The list formed by PTS and Socialist Left, headed by Myriam Bregman and Del Caño, with “Pollo” Sobrero for Governor in the strategic province of Buenos Aires and many fighters in the rest of the country, was the big winner in the internal elections of the FITU. A national triumph that rewarded those of us who did not divide and respected the agreements within the Front that allowed it to grow over the years. A particularly important vote was harvested in the working-class and popular neighbourhoods in the deep Greater Buenos Aires, as in La Matanza and other districts, except for the CABA Head of Government, where there was a controversial local election detached from the national election and with a disastrous electronic vote, with the PO-MST slate winning.

The PTS-Socialist Left list won nationally by 70 per cent of the votes versus 30 per cent for the divisive PO-MST list with Solano-Ripoll. Unfortunately, the division promoted by these parties prevented the Left Front from fighting united against the bosses’ parties, attacking our list with lying and unfounded accusations. The other left slates, outside the FIT Unity, like the New MAS of Manuela Castanheira and Marcelo Ramal of Política Obrera (Workers’ Politics), did not pass the primaries and cannot stand for the presidency.Now the FITU will fight united against the bosses’ candidates. We call on the fighters and the rest of the left to join this fight together, supporting the candidates of the FITU, headed by Bregman.

We call to raise a significant programme as we did, to break with the IMF, the non-payment of the foreign debt, in support of the workers’ and popular struggles as in Jujuy and the teachers, in defense of the rights of women, dissidents and youth, against environmental looting and in repudiation of repression and trigger-happy behaviour. We say that Milei, Bullrich and Massa are the candidates of austerity and the IMF, and that therefore the way out is with the left, is to strengthen a workers’ and socialist alternative to impose a workers’ and popular economic plan and a government of the left and of the workers. The bosses’ politicians are engaged in their electoral “strategies” in view of October. They are worried about how they continue to deceive the working people and the youth, speculating about who will be in the re-run, while the working people are sinking into destitution.

We call on the workers to confront the new austerity measures that the government has just imposed.

We denounce the trade union bureaucracy of the CGT and the CTA, who spend their time supporting the government, demanding that they call for a national strike and plan of struggle. We put all our militancy and militant trade unionism at the service of supporting the workers’ and popular demands, and to strengthen the only left slate in October, putting forward our workers’ and socialist programme and fighting for more left-wing seats. We salute those who accompanied us in this fight, calling on them to continue doing so together.