By John Fund, The Corner, The National Review Online
Argentina’s election on Sunday represented the starkest choice the country has faced since the authoritarian era of Juan and Evita Peron began in the 1940s. The seven-point victory of center-right candidate Mauricio Macri may herald a real shift towards more sensible economics and less anti-U.S. policies in Latin America.
Defeated Peronist candidate Daniel Scioli was a hand-picked defender of the interventionist economics of his party’s retiring President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner.
In a recent TV interview, Scioli summed up the differences between him and Macri simply: “I defend the role of the state and he defends the role of the market.” He accused Macri, a leading businessman and mayor of Buenos Aires, of representing policies of “savage capitalism” that would devastate the poor.
Argentina’s voters have often fallen for such rhetoric, but not this year. The record of Kirchner and her Peronist party was a disaster and not easily ignored. As The Economist magazine put it:
Fernández has hoarded power and suppressed dissent. She has bent the central bank to her will, muzzled the government’s statistics institute and bullied the media. She has tried, less successfully, to suborn the independence of the judiciary. . . .
The country is in danger of running out of reserves; the budget deficit this year is likely to be 6% of GDP; inflation is estimated at 25%; and growth is absent.
The Peronista in Skirts was unavailable for comment.