Known as the Ecuadorean political guru that oversaw President Mauricio Macri’s successful 2015 campaign, Jaime Durán Barba spoke with NET TV in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s election to address the results.
“The idea was to win,” he told Perfil’s Jorge Fontevecchia, “but if Macri didn’t win, what would we do to ensure that Argentina had a consolidated democracy in which adversaries respected each other.”
“Having democratic and republican ideals is also changing the country,” he added.
In words echoing Macri’s concession speech, both guru and politician saw the change in the Argentine people during Macri’s administration as one of “decency and respect.”
A shift, one of “cultural power,” was also reflected by the way that Durán Barba defined a leader on national TV. More than a technical expert, humans crave someone who not only speaks to them, but with them, he argued.
“I think it’s clear that human beings are not casino machines, we don’t work because someone gave us a token. There are cultural elements that weigh a lot.”
“For the most contested candidates, those who vote for them are those who feel marginalised due to racial, social, reasons,” he analysed. “There are dozens of complex elements that dictate the vote, but the economy is never the main one. If it were that way, Peronists would never win in La Matanza [in Greater Buenos Aires], which has been devastated for decades now.”
The Peronists did win La Matanza, a traditional stronghold for the movement. With 96.39 percent of the vote counted, Frente de Todos candidate Alberto Fernández leads the polls at a hefty 64.48 percent against Macri’s 23.52 percent, effectively winning the Peronist stronghold as part of his larger national win.
Even with former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner joining him on the ticket, Fernández established himself successfully as a moderate Peronist who was part of the 2003 Kirchner administration. A more moderate option, Durán Barba said he saw the potential in Fernández to initiate national dialogue.
“It looks like if he can dialogue adequately with Cristina, with Macri, then he can be successful,” he told Fontevecchia. “I think he has the opportunity to modernise the country and bring it back to the centre.”
Unlike Macri, Durán Barba said, “he was the inconspicuous anti-system candidate, but he won.” Fernández was able to address the cultural elements that Macri ignored, argued Durán, saying “he capitalised on permanent cultural and social movements.”
Despite his involvement in the Macri campaign, Durán Barba said he did see the potential Fernández brought to the country, specifically in the larger regional context that has seen violent protests break out in Chile and Bolivia in the past week.
Yet the political expert said he was more hopeful about Fernández than his vice-president-elect, Fernández de Kirchner.
“The relationship between an ex-president who is now vice-president, and the president, is very complicated. It’s a dangerous relationship, and Fernández needs to be careful,” he said.
Fernández takes power in a very complicated moment in regional politics, Durán Barba added.
With the “crisis of the occidental democracy [in] Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia,” the pushback to IMF loans and right-leaning economic policies has come at the cost of deadly protests and national standstills, the analyst added.