Argentina’s Day of Democracy: General Elections of 2015

Argentina’s Day of Democracy: General Elections of 2015

By Tracy Beck Fenwick, Director of the Australian Centre for Federalism and Senior Associate of the Australian National Centre for Latin America (ANU)

On Sunday the 25th of October Argentines voted in their 8th general election since the country’s return to democracy in 1983. From a regional perspective, it was truly a day of democracy and it was dramatic.
Since the early 2000s, Argentina has been governed by Mr. and Mrs. Kirchner’s brand of Peronism that morphed into Kirchnerismo. Despite Néstor’s death, his succeeding wife’s scandals, falling popularity ratings and popular mobilizations, the Front for Victory (FPV-PJ) appeared unstoppable. At least that was what we all thought when President Cristina Kirchner endorsed presidential candidate Daniel Scioli, a former governor of Buenos Aires and vice-president as her successor. But like many recent elections from around the globe, how wrong we were, at least for this first round.
For Sunday’s election, Mauricio Macri, the former Mayor of the City of Buenos Aires from PRO (Republican Proposal), was primarily competing against Scioli and Sergio Massa, a former Kirchnerite now running under his own label. Macri was supported by the opposition based Union Civic Radicals (UCR), and the left-of-center ARI (Egalitarian Republic) of Elisa Carrío. Even though Argentina has an array of active opposition parties, since 1983, only the Peronists (PJ) have both won and completed its terms in office. The UCR tried twice and failed in 1983 and in 1999. Therefore, the PJ is widely believed to be the only party that can successfully govern Argentina. Operating as a powerful party machine, the PJ is ingenious in its ability to morph into whatever ideology and platform is determined as the most viable for reaching the popular vote.

At 6 pm after the polling stations closed this Sunday both exit polls and electoral predictions expected a 40% Scioli lead, followed by 30% for Macri, then Massa. The public debate was about whether or not it would be a straight victory, or, require a ballotage, a second round of voting. After the official results however failed to appear, at around 10 pm Scioli delivered what seemed to be a victory speech that hinted of second round campaigning. With the true vigour of a national popular movement’s leader he incited Peron, the poor, the middle-class, and national industry. He then reminded the voter they were choosing between two projects. The first, his own, was framed in past Peronist glories, yet purported to be guaranteeing the future. The second, the opposition’s, was heavily framed in their past failures. He warned of a possible devaluation, the end of family benefits, and privatizations. Macri also delivered a speech shortly thereafter that sounded optimistic of a possible second round of voting.

But citizens kept wondering by midnight local time as candidates and parties from around the country celebrated victories and accepted defeats where were the official results? Nothing. Screens blank. The gubernatorial results for the Province of Buenos Aires which represents 38% of the electorate—nothing. Cristina was visibly absent, as was her chosen candidate for the province, Aníbal Fernandez. Panic set in on the live news channels, within the opposition, and on social media. Was this democracy unraveling?

Shortly after midnight the Minister of Justice and the Director of the Electoral Office appeared in a press conference saying that in two minutes they would deliver the provisional results long after most party headquarters had emptied. It was incredible. The official results showed Scioli was leading by over three percentage points and Maria Eugenia Vidal, a 42 years old well educated and experienced female bureaucrat from the right-of-centre PRO had won the gubernatorial election of the Province of Buenos Aires. This victory overturns decades of patronage-based control in some of the province’s core municipalities. For the past 28 years Buenos Aires has been governed by a Peronist male in a country that simply cannot be governed without the political control of this province.

As election night closed and live commentary continued into the early hours of Monday morning, Scioli gained a few percentage points. He ended up with a 36.35% lead versus Macri’s 34.78%. Although the 6 hours of absent electoral results signaled to those watching another serious state mishap, democracy won. It also claimed some historic firsts, including the first second round of voting scheduled for November 24th. Thus now we can speculate: If Maurcio Macri has a real chance at winning the Presidency, and his coalition controls the most powerful province in the country that is now officially under the leadership of a relatively young woman, perhaps an opposition coalition will not only win, but finish its term in office for the first time in 32 years of Peronist control. Nothing in a democratic state is impossible.

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ANCLAS Senior Associate Dr Rolando Ochoa published in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald

Dr Rolando Ochoa, ANCLAS Senior Associate published in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, The Age and The Brisbane Times about Joaquín “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman escape last Saturday night from the maximum security prison in Mexico.

You can read the story here


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ANCLAS book launch – Australia and Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies presents the book launch of:

Australia and Latin America
Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium

Edited by Barry Carr and John Minns

Published August 2014

3:00pm Wednesday 29 April
L.J Hume Centre, Copland Building (24) 1st Floor, Room 1171, ANU

This is a good time to reflect on opportunities and challenges for Australia in Latin America. Impressive economic growth and opportunities for trade and investment have made Latin America a dynamic area for Australia and the Asia Pacific region. A growing Latin American population, Australia’s attractiveness to Latin American students, a fascination with the cultural vibrancy of the Americas and an awareness of Latin America’s increasingly independent stance in politics and economic diplomacy, have all contributed to raising the region’s profile. This collection of essays provides the first substantial introduction to Australia’s evolving engagement with Latin America, identifying current trends and opportunities, and making suggestions about how relationships in trade, investment, foreign aid, education, culture and the media could be strengthened.

About the editors

Barry Carr is Adjunct Professor at The Australian National University for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) at the ANU and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Latin American Studies at La Trobe University. A historian of modern Latin America, he has researched and published widely on the twentieth century development of Mexico and Cuba. His most recent book is (with Jeffrey Webber) The Latin American Left: Cracks in the Empire (2013).

John Minns is the Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies and Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at The Australian National University.

The launch will be followed by light food and beverages. Free and open to the public, no RSVP required.

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ANCLAS book launch

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies presents the book launch of:

“Neoliberal Hegemony and the Pink Tide in Latin America: Breaking Up With TINA?”

3:00pm Wednesday 4 February
L.J Hume Centre, Copland Building (24) 1st Floor, Room 1171, ANU

Meet with the author Tom Chodor, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UQ and guest speaker Associate Professor Alastair Greig, reader in Sociology, ANU.

The book examines the struggles against neoliberal hegemony in Latin America, under the ‘Pink Tide’ of leftist governments. Utilizing a critical International Political Economy framework derived from the work of Antonio Gramsci,  it looks at its two most prominent members – Venezuela under Hugo Chávez and Brazil under Lula and Dilma Rousseff. The author argues that Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution represents a counter-hegemonic project that seeks to construct a radical alternative to neoliberalism, while the Brazilian project is better understood as a passive revolution aiming to re-secure consent for neoliberal hegemony by making material and ideological concession to the Brazilian masses. Despite their differences, the two projects cooperate at the regional level, driving the process of regional integration that aims to make Latin America more politically, economically and ideologically autonomous in the neoliberal world order. The book suggests this process opens up opportunities for a fairer, more prosperous and more democratic Latin America in the 21st century, challenging American hegemony and its neoliberal project in doing so.

About the author
Tom Chodor is the UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland. His research interests include International Relations, International Political Economy, globalisation, global governance, neoliberalism, regionalism, and the Pink Tide. He is currently working on a book about the Global South in global governance.

The launch will be followed by light food and beverages. Free and open to the public, no RSVP required.

Updated: 29 January 2015/ Responsible Officer:  Director, ANCLAS / Page Contact:  Web PublisherBook Cover

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ANCLAS’s Dr Tracy Fenwick talks to ABC Radio about developments in Argentina

Dr Tracy Fenwick, ANCLAS Senior Associate and Director of ANU’s Australian Centre for Federalism, spoke to ABC News Radio yesterday about political scandal in Argentina and rumours of connections between President Kirchner’s clique and the apparent suicide of a state prosecutor investigating corruption. You can hear the interview here:

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with Duo Ramirez Satorre. Direct from Buenos Aires.

19th February Thursday: Concert
Great Hall, University House
Australian National University
Entry: $30
Tickets at


The fiery nightlife of Buenos Aires is coming to Canberra as Tángalo and Duo-Ramirez
Satorre combine forces at a series of special events this February. Duo Ramirez-Satorre are masters of their craft, capturing the essence of the Argentine spirit with their interpretations of classic and contemporary repertoire. Featuring Hugo Satorre on bandoneon and Adrian Ramírez on guitar the duo have recently released their Grammy- Nominated ‘Piazzolla de Camara’ album. Tángalo, Australia’s premiere tango quintet, known for their highly danceable sound and flair in performing golden age and modern tango are returning direct from successful performances in Buenos Aires, the international capital of tango.
Together Tángalo and Duo Ramirez-Satorre will present a captivating and eclectic selection of tango and folkloric music. In what is a rare treat for Australian audiences the gritty power of multiple bandoneons will feature in the grand seven piece orchestra – also including violin, guitar, flute, piano, bass and vocals.

This concert has been made possible from
the sponsorship of The Embassy of
Argentina, as well as the support of
ANCLAS and The Artist’s Shed.

Morena Dancewear is a proud supporter of this tour


For full tour dates visit

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We want them alive: Violence and the “Mexican Moment”

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies, The School of Sociology and the Criminology Society at the Australian National University present:

We want them alive: Violence and the “Mexican Moment”


Public Seminar by Dr. Rolando Ochoa

1:00pm Wednesday 19th November Manning Clark Centre, Theatre 5, ANU

For most of the last decade, Mexico has been mired in chronic violence due to the toxic relationships between the state and organized crime. The government’s war on drug cartels has caused the death of over 80,000 and the disappearance of over 25,000. Today, the country is in the midst of an important political crisis triggered by the forced disappearance of 43 students at the hands of police, which has sparked mass protests for over a month. At the same time, the government is keen to promote its economic reforms and position Mexico as an important economic partner and international actor in the Asia Pacific region as evidenced by President Peña Nieto’s recent visit to China and the G20 Summit in Brisbane. How can we understand this disconnect between the local and international contexts? In this Public Seminar we will discuss the historical and institutional roots of the current situation in Mexico with regards to violence and how these may impact the government’s agenda at the international level with added discussions on possible policy paths for the future.

Speaker: Dr. Rolando Ochoa is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the School of Sociology, Australian National University. He holds a DPhil in Sociology and an MPhil in Latin American Studies, both from the University of Oxford, UK. He has been researching crime and violence in Mexico (in its many forms) for over a decade and is particularly interested in serious crimes, urban crime, organised crime, and crime prevention. He also has policy experience in the field of crime prevention and community safety.

The seminar will be followed by light refreshments. For catering purposes please RSVP by COB 17 November

For more information please visit: &


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