Elections vs. Democracy in Argentina

By Klein, Naomi | The Nation, May 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Elections vs. Democracy in Argentina


Klein, Naomi, The Nation


In most of the world, it's the sign for peace, but here in Argentina it means war. The index and middle finger, held to form a V, means to his followers, Menem vuelve, Menem will return. Carlos Menem, poster boy of Latin American neoliberalism, president for almost all of the 1990s, is looking to get his old job back on May 18.

Menem's campaign ads show menacing pictures of unemployed workers blockading roads, with a voiceover promising to bring order, even if it means calling in the military. This strategy gave him a slim lead in the first election round, though he will almost certainly lose the runoff to an obscure Peronist governor, Nestor Kirchner, considered the puppet of current president (and Menem's former vice president) Eduardo Duhalde.

On December 19 and 20, 2001, when Argentines poured into the streets banging pots and pans and telling their politicians, que se vayan todos, everyone must go, few would have predicted the current elections would come down to this: a choice between two symbols of the regime that bankrupted the country. Back then, Argentines could have been forgiven for believing that they were starting a democratic revolution, one that forced out President Fernando de la Rua and churned through three more presidents in twelve days.

The target of these mass demonstrations was the corruption of democracy itself, a system that had turned voting into a hollow ritual while the real power was outsourced to the International Monetary Fund, French water companies and Spanish telecoms--with local politicians taking their cut. Carlos Menem, though he had been out of office for two years, was the uprising's chief villain. Elected in 1989 on a populist platform, Menem did an about-face and gutted public spending, sold off the state and sent hundreds of thousands into unemployment.

When Argentines rejected those policies, it was hugely significant for the globalization movement. The events of December 2001 were seen in international activist circles as the first national revolt against neoliberalism, and "You are Enron, We are Argentina" was soon adopted as a chant outside trade summits.

Perhaps more important, the country seemed on the verge of answering the most persistent question posed to critics of both "free trade" and feeble representative democracies: "What is your alternative?" With all their institutions in crisis, hundreds of thousands of Argentines went back to democracy's first principles: Neighbors met on street corners and formed hundreds of popular assemblies. They created trading clubs, health clinics and community kitchens. Close to 200 abandoned factories were taken over by their workers and run as democratic cooperatives. Everywhere you looked, people were voting.

These movements, though small, were dreaming big: national constituent assemblies, participatory budgets, elections to renew every post in the country. And they had broad appeal. A March 2002 newspaper poll found that half of Buenos Aires residents believed that the neighborhood assemblies will "produce a new political leadership for the country."

One year later, the movements continue, but barely a trace is left of the wildly hopeful idea that they could someday run the country. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Elections vs. Democracy in Argentina
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.