It has been a particularly tough week for the current administration. Not only has it faced intense criticism for its handling of Correo-gate and botched changes to the pension scheme, but now even a number of pro-government legislators are grumbling about the Macri camp’s “clumsy” governing style. It is the “first time” the governing coalition has “suffered a crisis of this magnitude,” according to La Nacion’s sources.
“The series of errors damages the government’s public image,” said head of the pro-government alliance in Congress, Mario Negri, on Radio la red this morning, shortly after the Government publicly back-tracked on two recent decisions.
Negri is one of a number of oficialistas who is criticizing the government’s poor political performance of late. “Clumsiness and inefficiency are inexcusable,” tweeted political firebrand, Elisa Lilita Carrio, who forms part of the Cambiemos front. Meanwhile, in a similarly biting tweet, radical Héctor “Cachi” Gutiérrez said “governing is not just filling excel spreadsheets,” reflecting what would seem to be a common criticism of Macri: that he lacks political intuition, tending to govern as a CEO or technocrat.
La torpeza y la ineficiencia no pueden tener justificación.
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) February 16, 2017
The internal scuffle comes about in the wake of what many perceive as two clear political blunders. First, the government’s handling of a debt restructuring deal struck with the company that used to run the Argentine postal service Correo Argentina, a deal which some describe as “unfair” and as potentially involving a “conflict of interest.” And secondly, the Government’s flip-flopping over changes to the national pension scheme. These changes modified the way pensions were calculated, resulting in retirees receiving slightly less in their pension payments every month. At first the change was dismissed as technical error that was so minor as to be almost insignificant, before the resolution was repealed altogether.
Tension within the Cambiemos team appeared to be diffused after the Government cancelled the Correo-agreement and the ANSES resolution. But it seems a bad taste has been left in the mouth of various officialista senators and deputies. At a time when they are working hard to gather consensus around the Government’s proposed policies, these “unforced errors” (reportedly the most popular description of what is happening) are an unnecessary setback.
“The pension changes were a disaster that took us all by surprise and thank goodness it ended quickly. Last week, I had hoped that the Government would be able to better explain the Correo issue,” said Negri in the interview, criticizing the Government for making unavoidable errors, though dismissing Pagina 12’s use of the neologism “errorismo” (errorism) to describe Macri’s administration.
President Macri has attempted to cast things as a simple matter of human error and ‘learning from his mistakes.’ “I’ve already said it: if you want magic, go see David Copperfield. If I make a mistake, I apologise and correct myself,” he said at a sort-of emergency press conference at the Casa Rosada yesterday. But some believe that this ‘learn-on-the-go’ approach, perhaps suitable to a business environment, doesn’t necessarily cut it in politics, where there is a greater expectation of liability and account-giving.
At the end of the day, in a country where politics is particularly…political, he’s going to want to avoid any more “unforced errors.”