Legislative Politics in Latin America

By Scott Morgenstern; Benito Nacif | Go to book overview

10
Fiscal Policy Making in the Argentine
Legislature*
KENT H. EATON

If political ambition drives politicians, as this volume argues, then legislators should intervene in the policy process in ways that are calculated to advance their careers. In Argentina, due to features of the electoral system that are described in Jones' chapter, the keys to career advancement are held by the leaders of the parties to which legislators belong. In the main, legislators' career prospects are enhanced by toeing the party line on policies endorsed by the national party leadership. However, while Argentine parties are quite disciplined and hierarchically organized around a national political leader, provincial party leaders enjoy substantial autonomy over candidate selection within their own districts.1 Consequently, in seeking to cultivate ties to both provincial and national party leaders, governing party legislators sometimes face a conflict between the interests of the provinces that they represent and the national party line as it is articulated by the president.2 To date, scholarship on Argentina has emphasized the extent to which strong national party identities in the legislature undercut

____________________
1
Whether provincial party leaders support the national party leadership is largely a function of factional disputes within the party. Factions typically take shape as provincial party leaders cluster around the various governors jockeying for support as the party's next presidential standard bearer. In President Menem's second term, for example, different brands of intraparty opposition to his leadership were organized by Governors Eduardo Duhalde of Buenos Aires, Néstor Kirchner of Santa Cruz, and Arturo Lafalla of Mendoza.
2
How individual legislators negotiate this potential conflict depends on their specific career goals, in particular whether they seek to further their careers via other elective or appointive offices at the federal or provincial level. For example, governing party legislators who aspire to appointive offices at the federal level would do well to support the president's policies aggressively in the legislature, while legislators who anticipate running for governor may calculate that a more oppositional stance makes better sense.
*
Research for this chapter was supported by the Fulbright Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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