Argentina – effects of a defensive vote

Image: Robert Rauschenberg


The establishment's big bet around Juntos por el Cambio is on the verge of sinking.

The surprise result of the elections seriously affects the plans drawn up by the ruling classes to demolish popular gains. Massa's recovery, Milei's stagnation and Bullrich's failure alter the right-wing projects to weaken unions, dismantle social movements and criminalize protests.

Officialism channeled a defensive reaction to these dangers. It welcomed the democratic rejection of the rehabilitation of the dictatorship, the justification of state terrorism and the defamation of the feminist movement. Voters expressed their decision to support pensions and public education, prevent the annulment of social plans and prevent the chainsaw from pulverizing salaries.

A wave of votes undermined the right's confidence in his imminent arrival in government. The same brake that erupted in Spain, Chile, Brazil and Colombia emerged in Argentina. The memory was activated, the alarms sounded and society's reservations came to the surface, faced with the great misfortune that Milei and Bullrich sponsor.

A large part of the population knew how to recognize this danger, in the dramatic scenario of impoverishment that the current government endorses. These voters understood that the right will add the nightmare of repression to the same economic adversities. This electoral response indicates that our people's capacity for resistance remains intact.

Peronism recovered its vote after the failure suffered in the previous elections. With his great victory in the province of Buenos Aires, Kicillof provided the main support for Massa's victory.

Milei's avalanche among young people has been contained for now. It maintained its high numbers in amorphous segments of the new generation, but did not advance in the more organized sectors. The insolence and informality of the libertarian lose their appeal and face the barrier of rejection that popular militancy builds.

The confusion of the right

Conventional analysts minimize what happened with superficialities of all kinds.[I] They cannot hide the blow that demolished Bullrich and contained Milei, but they attribute this slap to the emotional behavior of voters. They omit that, if this characteristic had been so decisive, it should have also dominated in the caucuses, which had opposite results. Emotionality is, in fact, presented as a coin in the air, which can fall in any direction without explaining anything.

This view ignores that the rational element was particularly significant in the last election. Voters rejected the right in the decisive votes of the third round, after having flirted with other options in the provincial and internal elections.

The most vulgar analysts resumed their despised insult to the bulk of the population. They interpreted the electoral result as definitive confirmation that Argentina is “a shitty country”. But they did not understand to what extent this repeated offense contributes to resurrecting officialism. Popular majorities maintain their national self-esteem and reject the shocking defamation promoted by numerous communicators.

For columnists La Nación, the failure of the right is due to the populist manipulation of greater Buenos Aires. They contrast this sleight of hand with the citizen freedom they observe in the city of Buenos Aires. But the continued predominance of the same political space in this location belies this prejudice. Long-standing loyalties subsist in both districts and there is no reason to invalidate one case by exalting the other. It is as arbitrary to attribute civic virtues to the middle class as it is to identify the impoverished with political ignorance.

Liberals also believe that officialism gained from the apparatus and waste of public resources. But they forget that, in the previews, these instruments gave rise to a different result. The same inconsistency extends to the evaluation of candidates. They explain Massa's victory by his ability to deceive, ignoring that, with the same virtues as a deceiver, this veteran politician faced countless defeats.

Other analysts estimate that, this time, the electoral leaders have fine-tuned their devices to guarantee control of city halls. But they do not record how little the cutting of ballots, which usually accompanies these practices, was. For the spokespeople of establishment, what happened on Sunday, the 22nd, is simply incomprehensible. His opinions exclude the central fact, which was the emergence of a democratic reaction in the face of reactionary danger.

On the other hand, they record, more lucidly, that voters rejected the social abuse. But they disqualify this conduct, identifying it with “facilism” and the consequent denial of the advantages of the adjustment. They are especially outraged by the Argentine people's lack of meekness in the face of the aggression of the powerful.

A large part of the electorate resists the worsening of social deterioration. It is used to surviving with very high inflation rates, but does not accept the additional hardship of recession. Between enduring the famine and facing the loss of a job, he chose the first misfortune.

This selection of adversities was forged in experience with right-wing administrations, which tend to combine all torments. Mass is synonymous with inflation, but Milei and Bullrich would include all the complementary aggravating factors. For this reason, a large part of the population opted for a known evil, faced with the prospect of repeating the hardships faced under Menem, De la Rúa and Macri.

Another common explanation for the election result highlights that officialdom profited from the division of the opposition. But this obviousness does not clarify the reasons for this fracture. It omits that the same right-wing sponsored its own separation, by promoting Milei as a promoter of the adjustment. They created a monster that took on a life of its own and ended up burying Bullrich.

The spokespeople of power also forget that this division was not merely electoral, but the result of the disappointment generated by Macri. This disillusionment led the electorate to look for a savior outside the “caste”. The fracture of the opposition is due more to the crisis of this formation than to the cunning of officialism.

Finally, other analysts explain Massa's victory by the adequate hiring of external advisors, who designed his campaign by improving the format of several Latin American experiences. But these consultants do not currently stand out for their successes and could never have built a victory from nothing.

In fact, the same reaction that led to the defeat of Bolsonaro, Camacho, Trump, Kast, Guaidó and Hernández was repeated in Argentina. The containment of the far right is not a national peculiarity. But these answers do not even come close to the field of vision of the spokespeople of power.

Massa's profile

The winner of the election leads a conservative wing of officialism, which promotes projects very different from Kirchnerism. He made this clear in an appearance at the end of the election without chaperones, in order to highlight his new leadership. Massa announced the “end of the gap” and reaffirmed his call for a government shared with the right-wing opposition. He highlighted traditional values, reassured the establishment and, unlike Kicillof, he avoided any mention of Cristina.

His entire career confirms this tone. Massa first broke with Kirchnerism to converge with the right and then supported Macri's debut. He agreed to Berni's heavy hand and silenced his partner Morales' repression in Jujuy. He maintains close relations with the United States embassy and praises the squalid people of Venezuela. In the presidential debate, he stood out for his increased support for Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

Massa managed to hide that he is the minister of economy and that he manages the enormous impoverishment of the population. The rate of this degradation has risen to more than 40% and the devaluations agreed with the IMF worsen the inflationary fire. To receive the credits that creditors use to pay themselves, the minister installed the misadventure of double-digit monthly inflation.

The compensations it announces weekly to mitigate the dispersion of popular income are liquefied by inflation. No bonus counteracts the price markups carried out by large companies with the complicity of the Palácio da Fazenda. No one respects the formality of any price agreement and the Commerce Secretariat dispenses with any control.

Massa takes advantage of the truce he agreed with the IMF until the end of the electoral cycle to contain the exchange rate race with daily improvisations. It threatens the small fish of exchange offices without affecting the banks' large operations, negotiates aid in yuan to keep reserves in the red and postpones any significant decision until the November result. But he himself doesn't know if he will be able to avoid a collapse, resulting from the crazy race between inflation and devaluation.

The minister-candidate promises in the future what he is not doing now and guarantees that everything will change when he assumes the presidency. But he does not explain why he does not anticipate this fortunate future, based on his current command of the economy.

The millions of voters who chose to vote for him are not unaware of Massa's responsibility for the economic disaster. They personally experience the adjustment implemented by the minister, but they also realize that the right would accentuate the same tourniquet with repressive additions.

Positions ahead of the second round

As the total of Milei, Bullrich and Schiaretti's votes far exceeds Massa's, several analysts consider that the libertarian has a better chance of reaching the Casa Rosada. It would be a repeat of what happened in Ecuador's second round and would confirm that success in one election does not anticipate victory in the next. U-turns are the norm in all recent elections.

But it is also true that Massa came out better placed than his rival in the last contest. This difference is visible in the prevailing mood in the two forces and in the attitude of a minister who already appears as a leader.

Massa aligned with justicialism and negotiates positions with governors and the UCR (Radical Civic Union). With a tempting offer of appointments, he encourages the rupture of the Cambiemos. The same package brought him closer to Schiaretti and his partners in the interior.

On the other hand, Milei must heal the wounds he inflicted on the PRO (Republican Proposal), negotiating with discredited (Mauricio) and demoralized (Patricia) characters. She also faces a contradiction with the figure she constructed. She gained support with disruptive positions, denunciations of “caste” and delusional proposals. But now she pleads for support from the classical right, proposing the same plots she shouted down.

This abrupt conversion from lion to cute kitten erodes his credibility. O establishment and the media that promoted his protagonism distanced themselves from his nonsense.

The libertarian has in his favor the broad bloc forged in power to dislodge Peronism. But he lost his impunity to say anything. His proposals for dollarization, sale of organs, possession of weapons and rupture with China are no longer so funny. The latest absurdities around him (suspension of relations with the Vatican, allegations of unproven electoral fraud, cancellation of food support for separated parents) seriously affected him.

At the moment, any second round prediction lacks consistency. The mistakes of pollsters compete with the unexpected behavior of voters. Nobody imagined the outcome of the previous three rounds. But, in any case, the important thing is not the accuracy of this prediction, but the adoption of a correct attitude towards the second round.

We have already anticipated our attitude in several statements[ii] and in a recent debate.[iii] We understand that Massa’s main difference in relation to Milei is on the democratic level. The libertarian openly proclaims that he will attack social achievements by criminalizing the popular movement. Therefore, we propose a vote against the right, repeating the position adopted by the bulk of the left against Bolsonaro, Kast and Hernández. We also support unitary action initiatives from the left with aspects of critical Kirchnerism, in order to strengthen a common campaign.

In our opinion, it is erroneous to equate right-wing candidates with their opponents. The frustration of popular expectations with progressive governments is not equivalent to the repression that the right promotes. But this vote against the main enemy (Milei) does not imply hiding questions about the suffering caused by the alternative candidate (Massa).

The different forces of the FIT (Left and Workers Front) have not yet defined their position in the second round. In the election, they obtained results similar to those in previous rounds, but with the pleasant news of a new seat in Congress. Myriam Bregman was projected, moreover, as a figure with her own weight due to her excellent participation in the presidential debates. This influence did not translate into votes, but it could have a major impact in the next period, if the left adapts its strategy to the new scenario. The second round will be the first test of this challenge.

Questions about the new scenario

A political context marked by several black swans began to emerge, which altered the framework imagined by the dominant classes. The first surprise is the likely demolition of the main coalition sponsored by the powerful to manage the next government. The big bet of establishment around the Together for Change is on the verge of sinking. Its main figures were left out of the race and the detailed economic plan drawn up by the Foundation Mediterranean, under Melconian's command, lost its centrality.

The second surprising fact is the possibility of a new Peronist government. This alternative was completely discarded in the scenarios interviewed by the tycoons. Nobody imagined that Alberto Fernández's disastrous government could be crowned with a successor of the same suit. If this continuity is confirmed, the owners of Argentina will reevaluate the formulas for coexistence with justice. These options will have to include a review of their maximum aspiration, which is to subjugate popular majorities by modifying social relations of force.

The new Congress will process the change of scenario. The right's expectation of drastically changing the composition of Parliament to introduce a dizzying adjustment package has become more uncertain. A new libertarian bench will enter the venue, but the Together for Change lost legislators and officialdom maintained the main minorities. No one will have their own quorum and the creation of an environment is staggering, completely in accordance with the abuses promoted by the masters of adjustment.

Speculations about the tensions that will oppose Massa to Kirchnerism are premature. Kicillof's solid vote introduces an ordering factor for the struggles within Peronism. Cristina managed to establish her stronghold in the province of Buenos Aires and Massa will have to reevaluate his steps.

This same complexity extends to the social battle against adjustment. There is no doubt that this resistance is the only way to defend the rights of the dispossessed, whoever the next president is. In the case of Milei, the frontality of the clash would be visible, but with Massa it could include a greater variety of directions.

In his most recent administration, the minister combined inflationary adjustment with electoral demagoguery, adopting measures to suit all tastes. He supported new privileges for dominant groups, with a “Dead Cow Dollar” very similar to that granted to soybean producers. He also announced a fiscal normalization more favorable to evaders than that achieved by Macri. The minister also resorted to an unsupported emissions festival, to reach November by sustaining consumption in the midst of famine.

Several achievements for wage earners, such as the reduction in income tax by a Congressional law, were included in this salad. A reduction in working hours was also authorized. This initiative is opposed by lobbies of big capital and promoted by the unions and the left.

Opening this discussion was feasible with Massa, but would be unthinkable with Milei. The same contrast can be seen in the proposal to finance the granting of a bonus to informal workers through an extraordinary payment from large taxpayers.

The complexity of the new context is verified in these measures. The social struggle tends to become increasingly intertwined with political tensions. The great challenge of activism is to face this scenario intelligently.

*Claudio Katz is professor of economics at Universidad Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Neoliberalism, neodevelopmentalism, socialism (Popular Expression) [].

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


[I] Its most pathetic exponent is Joaquín Morales Solá ( But also José del Río, Martin Rodríguez Yebra and Carlos Pagni, that same day in the edition of La Nación.

[ii] “The left facing the dangers of October and November”, 31/8/2023,

[iii] “The left in the face of elections”, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, UBA, Buenos Aires 12-10- 2023,

the earth is round exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives