Monday, October 29, 2007

Mrs. K

You have managed to live this long without hearing my take on Argentina's national elections Sunday, but why take any chances?

When consuming foreign media reports about Argentina, it is important to follow a strict "no tango" policy. Zero tolerance for gratuitous mentions of the dance as a tortured metaphor for politics, sports, the weather, etc — or as purported insight into the national character, economy, etc.

Most of the salient points were made — tango free! — in the major English-language media outlets: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had a lock on the election from the start. There wasn't much debate or dialog. She won't have it as easy as her husband had it because much of the easy work has already been done.

Here are a few other tidbits of interest:

1. Voter turnout percentages are not a big thing because voting here is required by law. You can show up at the polling place and cast a blank ballot. You can scrawl "Evita" on your ballot. But you do at least have to show up and drop something in the box.

2. For 48 hours before the polls open, there is a gag order on the candidates as well as a prohibition on publishing polls. Also, no booze for sale on election day until the polls close. (So much for making a drinking game out of fraud allegations). Also banned on election day: sporting events and other public entertainment.

3. There is little telling what Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will do as president.

We know from campaign declarations that she is

(a) against poverty and

(b) in favor of people really pulling together to make a difference.

You can see why she got twice the votes of her nearest challenger!

The comparisons to Hillary Clinton are natural but ultimately little more than a curiosity.

The fact that Mrs. Kirchner was elected after Michelle Bachelet in Chile is great in that it means two women will be heads of state for Latin American countries. That is truly something. But beyond that, you have to look pretty hard to find similarities between the two women. Bachelet is more accomplished and did not ride in on the coattails of her husband after a lackluster campaign.

4. A prominent pollster publishes a blog, but because of the prohibition on publishing election polls in the closing hours of the campaign, he had to get a little creative in how he presented his information.

See for yourself if the depictions and percentages in the art at the head of this blog post resemble the election in any country you know.

Let's see . . . there's a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character in the lead with 45.9% of the vote; a generously proportioned Botero figure in second place with 23.3% of the vote, and Munch's the Scream in third with 14.1%.

Say, the vote totals here in Argentina lined up at 44.9% / 23% / 16.9%! What a remarkable coincidence.

Yes, this is a little inside baseball (¿inside fútbol?) . . . It means more if you know what the candidates look like. But trust me this is a laugh riot.

Just hysterical.

* * *

God, it just makes me giddy to know that when I hit the "publish post" button, the WHOLE WORLD will know my important opinions about politics.

I'm going to go eat some gnocchi.

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