The recent explosive “Notebook Scandal” has involved a number of prominent Argentine officials and is centered around a widespread web of corruption surrounding the Néstor and Cristina Kirchner administrations. A number of Argentine political analysts have positioned the ongoing trial, ordered by federal Judge Claudio Bonadio, as possibly the greatest corruption scandal in the country’s history.
However, in spite of this, political pollsters and analysts believe that, while the scandal may increase general distrust in politicians in Argentina, any impact that the scandal may have on Cristina Kirchner, as well as her allies and supporters, will be limited.
While pollsters will have more exact data on public opinion and general reactions to the scandal as results come back within the next few days, all have agreed upon the fact that the core base of Kirchernite supporters—roughly 30 percent of Argentine voters—will likely not be swayed by the scandal. This is supported by the fact that there have been a number of corruption cases against the Kirchners in the past, yet the core voter base never diminished.
“Many times, cases of corruption are not a strong enough motivator to change the electoral scenario,” political analyst Sergio Berensztein, who listed a number of similar cases in other countries, told La Nación.
Berensztein emphasized that there were a number of instances both in Argentina and across the globe in which “the leaders involved [in corruption scandals], far from losing adherents, actually used these scandals to solidify their base of support,” as in the case of Lula da Silva in Brazil, who leads the polls today, despite being in jail. Often, political figures are able to do so by painting legitimate inquiries into their activities as “politically motivated witch-hunts,” urging their supporters to rally around them.
However, Berensztein indicated that the real question looking toward the upcoming general elections is not how much the ongoing Notebook Scandal will hurt Kirchner and her allies. The key is how it will affect the disillusioned voter who would not vote for Cristina Kirchner or one of her proxies, but who had voted for Cambiemos and is currently unhappy with the current economic realities under President Mauricio Macri. After all, while the scandal doesn’t seem to have hurt Kirchner much, it does seem to have denigrated general trust in the Argentine government.
“Voters’ intentions won’t really be impacted all that much, because corruption allegations have already been attributed to the Kirchners in the past,” Raúl Aragón, another consultant, emphasized. “The notebook scandal doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, it only confirms what we already knew: during the Kirchner administrations there was corruption. There won’t be any significant damage to Kirchernism.”
According to Aragón, the Cambiemos campaign financing fraud scandal that broke shortly before the Notebook Scandal will thus have a much bigger impact in the general elections, because it “brings something to the table that was yet not on the political board.” If anything, Aragón argues that the notebook scandal will serve to temporarily distract people from the ongoing economic tumult within Argentina.
While this is not expected to hurt Kirchner or her allies in terms of those who already support her, what it might do is curb the growth of new Kirchnerite voters.
According to Pablo Knopoff, who works for the business and political consulting company Isonomía, an outcome of the scandal that can thus be highlighted is the limit it potentially places on the growth of Kirchnerism. “I don’t think they will lose any votes from those supporters who have always been around and will always continue to be, but I do think they will lose votes from those who sometimes approved of the former president and other times did not,” he stated.