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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 15-11-2021 16:10

Todos contentos

With less catastrophic results than those anticipated by the PASO primaries, all the politicians have to do now is open dialogue and get the country out of the national crisis...

Todos Contentos, the legendary restaurant in Buenos Aires' Chinatown that was forced to shut its doors due to the pandemic, provides the headline that sums up the midterm election results of November 14.

The government is happy because the catastrophe they had been foreshadowing in recent weeks was avoided. Frente de Todos closed the gap in the sacred province of Buenos Aires, and was able to turn around races in Chaco and Tierra del Fuego. However, that improvement did not reach the provinces where senators were elected, losing six of the eight seats, even in the two provinces where it was speculated that results could improve: Chubut and La Pampa.

In Costa Salguero, Juntos por el Cambio celebrated the results with greater intensity due to its consolidation as the country's leading electoral force – the opposition even slightly increased the number of votes with respect to the primaries. Resounding victories were also recorded in the provinces of Entre Ríos (54.5 per cent), Córdoba (54 per cent), Mendoza (49.5 per cent) and Santa Fe (40 per cent). The intensity of the 'contentedness' decreases for those who lead the coalition perhaps as results from three provinces highlight the emergence of new players who will claim their space at the decision-making table (Rogelio Frigerio, Carolina Losada, the rustproof steel Julio Cobos and Mario Barletta respectively).

The radical right were also celebrating, thanks to the strong performance by Javier Milei in Buenos Aires City (who obtained 17 percent of the vote, up three points since the primaries) and José Luis Espert in Buenos Aires Province (who climbed 2.4 points on the PASO to reach 7.5 percent), winning two deputies for Avanza Libertad, which will likely be added to the two from La Libertad Avanza.

The radical left celebrated because it managed to secure Myriam Bregman's election as a deputy for FIT-U in the capital with a comfortable 7.8 percent, one point less in the province of Buenos Aires, although it allows her to enter with two deputies. But the real celebration for the left is in Jujuy, where Alejandro Vilca is fighting vote-by-vote for second place against Frente de Todos, which would allow him to enter the lower house. Even Florencio Randazzo, despite the poor election result, will make it into Congress.

Frente de Todos is breathing a sigh of relief at remaining the first minority in the Chamber of Deputies, so it is most likely that Sergio Massa will continue to preside over the lower house. On the other hand, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner must be analysing the scenario in Senate carefully. The vice-president is perhaps the least happy of everyone in the ruling coalition, as she will have to negotiate intensely to obtain the quorum that was, until now,  assured. But there is no more room for the warning letters: Peronism recovered almost 900,000 votes, even though it lost.

The overall picture may leave Argentina's ailing society happy. The results reduce the likelihood of catastrophe and should force the top political forces to sit down and negotiate to solve the country's urgent problems.

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Carlos De Angelis

Carlos De Angelis

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