October’s mid-term elections in Argentina marked a significant turn in one of the deepest crises the country has ever faced. After more than three years of recession, savage cuts in wages and public services, a growing wave of increasingly militant social struggles, and with the prospect of total financial meltdown lurking just around the corner, everyone expected the ruling Alliance parties to take a beating at the polls.
What wasn’t expected-in a country where voting is compulsory-was the huge number of people who refused to cast a positive vote at all. Even more surprising, alongside this “angry vote” (voto bronca), was the spectacular increase in the scores of several currents on the socialist left.
The British socialist newspaper Socialist Outlook asked Ernesto Herrera, leader of the Fourth International’s work in Latin America and a member of the International Commission of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) in Uruguay, to comment.
Ernesto Herrera: “The so-called “voto bronca” or spoiled votes, which reached about 30 percent. show that a large part of the population is fed up with and no longer believes in the whole political system.
In these elections the governing Alliance lost 5 million votes. The Peronists lost votes too, even if they won more than the Alliance.
The progress of the left, on the other hand, is the first sign of a real change in popular awareness. The left began to channel the dissatisfaction of the workers, the unemployed, the students, and the impoverished sections of the middle class.
In total the left won 1.3 million votes, which is very significant. At a national level that represents almost 12 percent of the vote. Within that, Autonomy and Freedom, led by the former Trotskyist MP Luis Zamora, with positions opposed to corruption and to payment of the foreign debt, but with no very clear program, capitalized on much of the discontent.
The United Left (IU), which is an alliance between the Communist Party and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Movement (MST), also made gains, as did the PO and the MAS, two other Trotskyist currents, and the Humanist Party, which got more than 300,000 votes. In Buenos Aires these parties of the left won four or five members of parliament. In some other provinces they did the same.
The problem is that these 1.3 million votes don’t translate into a unified proposal from the left. They are the sum of different projects, currents, organizations, which don’t even have an agreement for joint work in parliament or in the town halls.
At the moment there’s no sign of a political agreement between the different currents to work together, either inside or outside parliament.
What’s more the biggest left vote went to Zamora’s Autonomy and Freedom, which expresses somewhat “anti-party” positions, not only against the parties of the right, but against the forms of organization and engaging in politics adopted by the radical, Marxist left.