The pandemic that is hitting the world has already generated the worst economic crisis in a century, produced the first setback recorded in the UN Human Development Index and consolidates a new lost decade, in economic and social terms, in the Latin American Region. In our country, the pandemic unfolded in front of a recently assumed government that is distinguished by an anomaly of origin: the core of power does not reside in the government house.
The populist style of our government -which in Felipe González’s definition is characterized by “imagining supposed easy solutions to complex problems and, by the way, always pointing out culprits” – revealed, as was foreseeable, its shortcomings in addressing the pandemic by disbelief in scientific knowledge, relativize the teachings of the best international practices and, by promoting a society supervised by power, reject cooperative styles of government. In addition, prominent leaders of the ruling party added a crude pseudo-ideological explanation blaming neoliberalism, if not capitalism, for the pandemic.
Argentina is, in the region, the second country in deaths per million inhabitants -after Peru and before Brazil- and in economic matters the extended quarantine produced catastrophic effects.
The year-on-year fall in GDP is around 11%, higher than in 2002 with the implosion of the convertibility regime, and more than double the world average. Likewise, despite the fact that the primary deficit was the highest since the Rodrigazo of 1975 – and the fiscal deficit the highest since the democratic establishment of 1983-, the destruction of jobs reached the figure of 4 million at the peak of the quarantine .
The reversal of the consequences of the pandemic is subordinate to the evolution of the conditions of the global economy – which depends, crucially, on improvements in global governance – and, in each country, on the capacity of political systems to process, with according to the principles of the rule of law, the multiple and diverse negative impacts.
The attitude and the results of the administration indicate that the movement exercised by the government -beyond its electoral legitimacy and the legislative majorities- is powerless to assume the transformation agenda demanded by post-pandemic Argentina.
This is so because of: its polarizing political practice; the extravagant international alignment it proposes; mistrust in the rules that implement the production of goods and services in the most successful countries promoting, instead, a prebendary capitalism and friends; the denial of the validity of the republican order; disdain for the principles of federalism; the use of the patronage resource as a rule in the relationship with citizens and economic and social actors.
Overcoming decadence and stagnation is associated with the implementation of a program of social progress based on the tripod of institutional strengthening – a condition for the peaceful coexistence of Argentines and a determining cause of economic results – integration into the world – promoting the values of democracy and human rights and being part of all global trade and production flows- and formalization of commitments – encouraging the culture of dialogue and agreement among all political actors with a democratic vocation-.
It will always be necessary to insist on our well-founded conviction that lawfulness explains, to a large extent, the sources of the relative decline in our country.
In the same way, our certainty about the complete amorality of violence, and our unshakable belief that democracy is the only legitimate rule of the game to resolve conflicts in society, obliges us to denounce the accompaniment of the demand for armed struggle by official leaders and government authorities.
This political position constitutes an unfortunate setback in the social consensus reached in the post-dictatorship when it became clear that the failure of the guerrilla’s adventurous experience was a tragic strategic mistake and not an accidental and contingent defeat.
Just as we trust in the rules as the cement of a society that aspires to live in peace and freedom, we understand that the realization of our country is only possible integrated into the post-pandemic world that will accentuate the “de-westernization” of globalization, will have a growing dispute among the superpowers due to technological primacy, it will have to deal with the increased challenges of migration and organized transnational crime and, also, with potential new pandemics.
The challenge of a global governance of greater quality and effectiveness must have Argentina in a leading position, affirming the value of the rules, rebuilding the role of multilateral organizations, contributing to the design of rules in the financial dimension of globalization and establishing the principle of human rights as a secular religion on a planetary scale.
By the way, this journey requires a reformulation of the populist political action imposed by the movement that governs. This rethinking requires that the dialogue and the culture of agreement between political actors and in parliament be placed at the center of the scene.
Conceiving power as a place to be conquered, where the political game is zero-sum, denotes an archaic and atavistic mode of political management. On the contrary, assuming power as a construction that requires agreements is a way of designing an advanced democratic society, superior to the imposition or subordination models typical of populist modes of political action.
Jesús Rodríguez is a former national deputy (UCR), former Minister of Economy and currently president of the National Auditor General’s Office. Vice President of the Alem Foundation.
* A more extensive version of this article can be read at http://www.jesusrodriguez.com.ar/ideas-actualizadas-para-los-ideales-de-siempre/