Days before the general elections, the results are already obvious. All the polls agree in forecasting Macri being defeated by an even larger margin than that of the primaries. The same goes for the Province of Buenos Aires, where the incumbent governor Vidal’s defeat is incontrovertible. The reason behind this foreseeable result: the economical bankruptcy that sealed the Macri administration’s fate has accelerated since the primaries on August 11th, with further devaluations, an accentuation of inflation, which during September reached 5.9%, the slump in production and consumer purchase, and a new cycle of factory closures with the resulting massive lay-offs. Confronted with this scenario of all-encompassing economic bankruptcy, Macri’s platform has decided to invoke the desperate measure of a right-wing campaign, with Vicepresidential candidate Pichetto and Security Minister Bullrich in the limelight, with their promises of further crackdowns, attacks on immigrants and rehabilitation of the last genocidal military coup d’etat leaders. The resource of a fascisticizing campaign won’t have an impact on the election, but could be utilized in the future by presidential frontrunner Alberto Fernández against the workers who would oppose his austerity measures. After all, in his ranks he has the masterminds of the Anti-terrorist Law and those who put Berni and Milani [infamous repressive characters] at the helm of the security and defense forces.
With an eye on the IMF
In the face of Macri’s certain defeat, the focus of the political situation has been put on Alberto Fernández and the economists who surround him. Several of them were sent by the Frente de Todos’ candidate to the IMF’s plenary session on a sort of para-official mission, in order to continue the public debt renegotiation talks which are covertly underway with the investment funds and big banks. Although it is not a secret that there is an underlying confrontation between the IMF and the funds that have the Argentine debt in their portfolios, regarding the terms of a certain bond restructuring, it’s safe to say that they all agree on a central issue: the future government must secure the conditions to pay the restructured debt by means of a fiscal surplus, which could only be achieved with new austerity policies which would affect the working population, the provinces and, naturally, the pensioners.
Alberto Fernández has already spoken out in this sense, by declaring himself as a partisan of ‘twin surplus’ (fiscal and commercial), which would involve new devaluations in order to secure a depreciation of wages and state social spending, as well as an incentive for exports. Due to the country’s economic structure, which is highly dependent on its import’s industrial and commercial chain , that commercial surplus can only be achieved in times of internal economic depression, because of the slump in international purchases. The IMF is already announcing something in this realm when it predicted that Argentina will suffer a new dip in its economy next year. The Uruguayan model of debt restructuring, which Alberto Fernández has held as a role model, entailed this very situation we are pointing out: a nominal reduction of wages, a devaluation of the local currency and labour flexibility for the workers, in order to ensure the 4% fiscal surplus meant to pay the scheduled debt.
Due to the scale that the crisis has acquired, it is quite probable that these measures will begin to be enforced on the 28th of October [the day after the general election], be it with Macri still in office or with an early handover of power. In the past few days, the Central Bank’s reserves have suffered further slumps and it is estimated that at this rhythm they will be virtually nonexistent by the 10th of December [day when the new president is due to take office]. A further tightening of the control on foreign currency purchases is looming, which would now be aimed especially at savers and not companies, and also a growing default. Shielding themselves in the need of ‘taking care of the reserves’, another rise in the exchange rate is expected. In fact, the ‘contado con liqui’ dollar which companies use to buy foreign currency and assess many of their costs already hovers around 68 pesos. A new devaluation would again affect prices, at times when salaries are frozen or with fixed sums which are far from making up for the loss of purchasing power of the current and previous years. A surge of the dollar would also put more pressure upon the price of fuels, which has a huge impact on the commercial chain and which is currently 17% ‘less’ than what it should be according to oil companies. The oil lobby, which has a strong presence within Alberto Fernández’ inner circle, will surely push for the devaluation to be transferred to gas’ final price, with the veiled threat that if this does not happen, investments will be frozen. But it was precisely a hike in gas prices that which unleashed a rebellion of the people of Ecuador.
Social pact vs. Ecuador
Alberto Fernández’ intention of accelerating this unmitigated battleplan against the people has an explanation. It would be the prelude to the signing of the so-called ‘social pact’, for which he already has commitments from the Industrial Union (UIA) the bureaucracy of the General Confederacy of Work [CGT, one of the major union federations], Moyano’s people [former secretary general of the CGT] and both Argentine Workers’ Confederacies (CTA). The ‘social pact’ has become the backbone of the future government because it must amass the necessary political resources to apply further austerity measures against the workers. Pablo Moyano [son of Moyano, current National Deputy and secretary general of the toll-booth workers’ union] said this when he pointed out that the unity of the CGT must have the aim of “supporting the president in the face of the difficult measures he must take”. For instance, the Metal Workers’ Union (UOM) has begun the process of reviewing its collective labour agreement (CCT) in order to shape it to the bosses’ needs. The union bureaucracy and the Kirchnerismo [Peronist political movement supporting Néstor and Cristina Kirchner, the latter being Alberto Fernandez’ running mate] foresee a fire and are already signing up as firefighters. The issue of a labour reform, CCT by CCT, will be included in the offers they make to the IMF, the UIA and the rest of the bourgeoisie who is still calling for such a revision.
It is probable that Alberto Fernández will use the Ecuadorian example to ask the IMF and the creditor banks for more room for negotiation. Them conceding this request, however, is another story. Despite their certain victory, the Kirchneristas are vying for a larger ballot to their candidates, with the argument that a higher turnout in their favour broadens their negotiation margin with the creditors. But the situation is actually the opposite: a larger percentage of the vote would be used to reinforce their capability to impose the social pact and isolate the struggles that arise against it, with the cliché pretext that the will of the majority is unknown.
Vote for the left
Voting for the Workers’ Left Front - Unity (FIT-U) in the current scenario acquires a powerful meaning: it is a vote antagonistic to the battleplans against the workers, which are being cooked up thousands of kilometers away, by the IMF staff, the creditor banks and Macri and Alberto Fernández’ envoys. It is a vote which rejects the social pact designed by the union bureaucracy and the bosses, which aims to curtail the workers’ struggles. It is a vote for an anti-capitalist and socialist way-out, which emerges from cutting ties with the IMF, the rejection of the foreign debt, the nationalization of the banking system, foreign trade and natural resources, the prohibition of lay-offs and suspensions, the distribution of work hours, for an emergency raise of wages and pensions and the reopening of salary discussions. The vote for the Workers’ Left Front - Unity is a boost for an independent action of the working class and exploited people in order to defeat the capitalist governments and pave the way for a workers’ government. FIT-U’s parliamentarians will be useful to this objective.
In the coming days, we call for a reinforcement of FIT-U’s campaign all over the country.