As if nothing had happened and time had not passed in the last forty years, Argentines are once again seeing the monstrosity emerge in the political arena. Riding on the back of a regressive global wave, the conservative right and the denialist ultra-right are now riding together for the second round of the elections.

They threaten, for the umpteenth time, to undermine the future of the millions of inhabitants of this land, taking advantage of the context of a crisis that they can only worsen with their 18th century recipes, formulated in the context of clerical-monarchical decadence, in the context of the rise of the bourgeoisies and before the emergence of the nation states.

The violence that appears in their declarations and positions constitutes not only a reactive provocation but also an intimidation that aims to curtail the full right of the Argentine people to undertake unavoidable social transformations.

Once again, in the need to defend conquests won over decades such as public health and education or the affirmation of human rights, the historical spirit advises voting in self-defence and preventing the real power – the multinational banks and their local servants – from taking formal power by legitimising themselves through the ballot box.

But beyond the at first sight simple dilemma posed by this call to the polls, it is worth analysing what prevailed in the feelings of the nearly 10 million who voted for the formula headed by Sergio Massa, how decisive these feelings may be in the decisive round and what can be expected from his possible presidency, especially in relation to the collapse of the unipolar model and the geopolitical reconfiguration underway.

Looking in the rear-view mirror

Four years ago, Argentine citizens, and progressivism in particular, were compelled to avoid the re-election of Macri, a representative of foreign and local power interests, who during his mandate sank any possibility of human growth in the country. The same Macri who today is back in political power by introducing elements of his entourage under the guise of a weak candidacy, without territorial foundations.

The strategy of Cristina Fernández and her political space in 2019 was to entrust the executive candidacy to the man who had been her chief of staff and that of her predecessor in office and life partner Néstor Kirchner, but who later dissociated himself from that ambit after the conflict that pitted the then president against the landowning and agro-industrial sectors in the dispute over the famous ‘125 resolution’.

This electoral tactic, which achieved its goal in the first round due to the disastrous Macrista administration, placed Alberto Fernández in the presidency and the former president in the vice-presidency, as a kind of guarantor of the course and support from the legislative ranks.

The current president, who was placed at the highest level of government because of his more dialogue-oriented profile, tried to surf the waves of an acute systemic crisis, including the pandemic outbreak, the armed conflict in Ukraine and the economic recession with high inflation, added to the vernacular difficulties imposed by the shackles of indebtedness generated by Macri and the structural dependence of an economic matrix of mainly agricultural exports tied to adverse climatic factors that are nowadays adverse.

Using a benevolent look and adjusting to what was expected, his efforts in handling the pandemic and his contribution to regional integration of a sovereign nature, the recovery of productive sectors and the support given to national scientific development can be considered achievements of his administration.

Of course, this period of government also includes the popular joy at the success of winning the third World Cup and the inestimable victory for women in legalising the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, whatever the contribution of the president and his team may have been to this achievement.

These issues, among others, are overshadowed by an enormous poverty crisis that clearly shows that the real power does not make concessions or engage in dialogue.

A breath of fresh air amidst uncertainty

Despite the seriousness of the issue, today Argentina is displaying a colourful and very colourful circus repertoire in the electoral battle, showing in the most-staunch, sector of the opposition a farce [ 1] of buffoons, buscas [2] and acrobats [3] who are jostling for position under the flimsy umbrella of a candidate who exhibits some traces of psychological imbalance.

Another sector of the opposition, hitherto allied with the former, is trying to appear behind a screen of supposed neutrality in its inclination to vote, thinking of gaining positions of leadership in opposition to the future government. Others are still keeping silent, looking for future opportunities.

Journalists who until Sunday were operators of the real caste, the economic power, are now criticising the political moves of a sector that is also conspiring against the collective interest. Even the number of provinces seems to have changed: while Massa is meeting with 18 governors, according to media reports, the league of opposition governors is trying to show its own muscle by bringing together ten of them in a post-election conclave. It so happens that Argentina has 23 provinces plus the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. Something doesn’t add up, unless the participants include outgoing and/or incoming governors?

Even the fans of pop music idols revered by the youth enter the arena expressing their rejection of the cuts in rights promised by the former lion, who celebrates the support of the former candidate of Separados por el Cambio (of the electoral scene) with a Disney stamp.

All this pandemonium is being televised live and transmitted by the omnipresent and increasingly anti-social networks.

Thus, the force that is growing the most in this nonsense is confusion.

Those who believed in an “anti-caste” discourse – in reality against the mediating influence of politics and the state in the face of private cruelty and inequality of opportunity – are now inundated with characters from the ranks they criticised so much.

Those who had hoped for a clear anti-fascist alignment from those who tout proclamations of democracy, republic, health, public education and the rule of law are perplexed by their lukewarmness and lack of definition.

Those who still value ideological and political legacies do not understand the silence of leaders who, when it suits them at the moment, appeal to old symbols and chants of party identity.

Even many of those who have an affinity with hermetic positions, usually incapable of creating broad consensus, ask themselves if the time has not come to allow themselves a certain openness.

However, beyond the local effects of the current situation, it is necessary to understand that confusion and uncertainty are not local phenomena, but a global trend, driven by the constant changes that human beings are undergoing.

Hence, people are calling for a truce, for a respite, for stability. This was the decisive factor in the outcome of the first round and will also be the case in the second round.

That is why a certain restraint, a certain calm, a certain hope for the progressive recovery of the fabric of social support will triumph provisionally, even if they do not constitute definitive solutions, in the face of nebulous, abysmal proposals that generate greater unease.

Along the way, and in the desperation of the losing sector – in the absence of the resignation to the ballot due to the disengagement of the same sectors of power that have so far pushed Milei’s candidacy – it is possible that we will witness a barrage of fakes – especially on digital platforms lending themselves to the highest bidder – that seek to undermine Massa’s public figure.

The bigger picture

So far, relatively endogenous factors have been considered, except for the allusion to the general trend towards destructuring and instability. What influence does the geopolitical world map exert on this election and what does a triumph for the ruling party mean in these circumstances?

In the face of unequivocal pressure from the United States in its attempts to realign Latin American and Caribbean nations under its leadership, the political constellation of the region is, with a few exceptions, elusive.

Invigorated by the international presence of Gustavo Petro and Lula da Silva, resistance to military and diplomatic involvement in conflicts promoted by the North, with the complicity of the European Union, is expressed in a forceful manner, accompanying successive losses of influence of the Western and particularly Anglo-American pole in international forums.

In this transformation of the balance of power in favour of an already established multipolarity, it is very clear how the Argentine foreign ministry would play in one case or another. A Massa government would continue along the line of sovereign regional integration – somewhat relativised by the financial ‘squeezes’ of the IMF and powerful investment funds – while Milei would automatically side with the US State Department, surrendering all traces of independence and operating as a factor of disintegration and McCarthyism.

A new presidential administration of Peronism, nuanced within the framework of its expansion to other sectors (today called with more pomp than substance “national unity”), will take advantage of the invitation to the select club of the BRICS, essential for the country’s exports and technological exchange, the backbone of the neo-developmentism that Massa would promote. While an ultraneoliberal government would retreat into the den of dependence on the global North, which is surely one of the keys to why part of the local establishment itself, highly interested in doing business with the East, will finally withhold its support.

Looking to the future

As mentioned above, the prevailing psychosocial situation in Argentina is not conducive at the present time to the necessary and indispensable root changes, but they are ungraspable at this juncture. Therefore, offering resolute resistance to the risk of suffering the ravages of the violence of a liberal-fascist regime appears to be the best option.

Although history is being made at every step, the destiny of the inhabitants of these lands is not exhausted in an election, so that, once the imminent danger is removed, it will be necessary to continue trying to build alternatives of greater depth, far from an outdated scheme of reformism and capitalist transformism, whose central value is money and the appropriation of other people’s intentions.

With greater determination, then, we must continue to push for the peoples to embrace profound changes in the values that affect their inner-self, the only guarantee that a new reality of solidarity and fraternity will emerge, in which true freedom is possible for all.

[1] Jocular one-act play with a folkloric and popular character.

[2] Cult of “rebusque”, the use of ingenuity in conditions of difficulty or scarcity, to find resources or means to survive.

[3] Artist who specialises in the development of acrobatics and jumps. Used in the political ambit for those who frequently change party colours.