A six-year prison sentence buries Christina Kirchner’s ambitions, but not her power

On Tuesday, December 6, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner listened to the reading from her office in the Senate. Six years in prison for corruption in two of his governments, between 2007 and 2015. Minutes later, staring into the camera, he told the Argentines that he was the victim of a “judicial mafia” whose sole purpose was to ban him from politics. Since the start of the trial three years ago, there has been little innovation in his attacks on the federal judges, who he considers to be in the pay of the opposition and the mainstream media. But there was something else that day. When all is lost in the aforementioned monotheism, Kirchner announced his withdrawal from any election contest. “They want me dead or in jail, I’m not going to be a candidate for anything, I’m not going to be a candidate for president or senator, I’m not going to be on any ballot,” he shot on the verge of tears. Politics defeated in court He placed himself again, this time absent, at the center of the scene.

The night following the sentencing, Kirchner organized a barbecue. He brought governors, legislators and senior government officials, all Kirchnerists with a black palate, to the same table. Instead of standing up, he sat on the ground. “She was strong and armed, and she told us: ‘I’m not here to talk, I’m here to share a moment with you, but I’m going to say something: each of you has a marshal’s baton,'” she said, leaving the microphone. , recreating one of the crowd. He transferred to them the responsibility of avoiding an electoral defeat of Peronism in 2023.

Kirchner was not barred from running because the conviction was not final. “Any normal politician, in a similar situation, would say, ‘I believe in justice,’ and the appeal time is very long, up to eight years,” says a person very close to the vice president, but who builds bridges with them. President Alberto Fernandez. “It’s enough that she says she’s innocent, but I don’t want to judge her whether she can be a candidate or not. That’s why it makes the race doubly anticipatory,” he explains.

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The move puts him back at the center of political debate. Peronism is now forced to reorganize, with all controversies settled and the axis defunct. For the opposition, the ex-president’s absence from a poll would create an alternative dialogue for polarization.

Personal issues also played into Kirchner’s resignation. On September 1st, The former president escaped unhurt from an assassination attempt on the doorstep of his home in Recoleta, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city of Buenos Aires. The assailant’s bullet did not exit. Peronism, battered by the economic crisis, found a reason to rally and came out in support of its most important figure. The corrupt road case went in the background.

Kirchner tried to establish the idea that there were no attackers, so far without success Lone wolves as justice deems, but part of a larger organization funded by the opposition. He left home. He left the rich neighborhood to live in San Delmo, near his daughter Florencia, in the historic center of the capital. There he continued the last days of the trial and sentencing, which he took for granted. There she decided, without notifying anyone, that she would not be a candidate for “anything”.

Jurors found Kirchner responsible for defrauding the government of about $1,000 million by diverting public works contracts to friendly businessmen. The former president will appeal the sentence, but if he renounces elected office, he will inevitably lose privileges that protect him from jail if he loses in court.

“He would not be a candidate, his announcement was true,” says Kirchnerist, who knew him closely. “He tells them ‘we’ll see if they dare to put me in jail in 2023, without concessions.'” Christina doesn’t want to be. [el expresidente Carlos] Menem died with a conviction as a senator [por tráfico de armas a Ecuador y Croacia] Confirmed in the second instance. He gives in, though he loses political power. It will continue to be central to Peronism in general and Buenos Aires province in particular, but it will no longer be absolute. “He loses influence because he doesn’t give up,” he says.

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Peronism must now re-circulate a figure that does not yet exist. “It takes away our strong potential, no doubt, but it opens up the game more, and if we can get everyone in it’s going to be a very horizontal game,” the source explained. He says that Kirchnerism must be prevented from radicalizing and taking a different course outside of Peronism. “That will complicate things” in the 2023 general election, he warns.

Kirchner Arms and Disarms. In 2019, he represented Peronism on the ballot as vice-president, when he chose Alberto Fernández, who hated him. He knew he didn’t have the votes to defeat re-electionist Mauricio Macri, and he tried from behind the scenes of power. The Fernandez-Kirchner formula won the election and wreaked havoc on the government. Fernandez and Kirchner promised each other eternal love, but after two years they did not speak.

The Vice President never agreed to a public defeat. Ignored its dolphin signing agreement with the International Monetary Fund And he forced all the ministerial changes he could. There was another thorn in that unnatural relationship: Kirchner always felt the president didn’t do enough to prevent the highway cause that culminated in last Tuesday’s conviction.

Peronism’s electoral prospects are not high. Alberto Fernandez flirted with the idea of ​​re-election, but his image was tarnished. Axel Kisyloff, Cristina Kirchner’s dolphin in Buenos Aires province, would like to run for a second term as governor if there is no political earthquake. remains Sergio Massa, Economy Minister, was elected by emergency When the crisis threatened to derail. Massa’s fate depended on the support Kirchner and Kirchnerism had given him so far. But inflation will not skyrocket (it will be 100% in December) and social tension will not undermine the delicate governance that keeps Argentina alive today.

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And the opposition? There are many candidates out there. She feels like a winner, and whoever wins the internal debate will grace the Casa Rosada next year. The race includes the mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Lauretta, and Mauricio Macri’s former defense minister, Patricia Bullrich (2015-2019). There is a long list of undecideds, such as Macri and the former governor of Buenos Aires, Maria Eugenia Vidal.

The UCR Centenary Party, which is part of the opposition Alliance for Change, also bears their names. Kirchner’s departure leaves them without a major unifying factor. They all saw the conviction against Kirchner as a victory for the republic and “an end to 12 years of corruption and impunity”, as Mario Negri, the leader of the opposition delegation in Congress, put it. Bulrich, from the far right of the opposition coalition, raised his tone further: “We will continue to be vigilant and not let our guard down. Kirchnerism cannot be underestimated. There are no limits to its damage potential. Kirchner will henceforth be “Kirchnerism”.

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Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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