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Argentina's democracy is a joke

By Tony Pagliaro

24.01.06 | A close look into Argentina’s democratic institutions -run by the Kirchners- provides an excellent example of what Marina Ottaway describes as “a semi-authoritarian regime” (See: Marina Ottaway, “Democracy Challenged”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, 2003), i.e. “a system that combines rhetorical acceptance of liberal democracy, the existence of some formal democratic institutions and respect for a limited sphere of civil and political liberties with essentially illiberal or even authoritarian traits”.

Those regimes “are not imperfect democracies struggling toward improvement and consolidation but regimes determined to maintain the appearance of democracy without exposing themselves to the political risks that free competition entails”.

Recent information on the complete “rubber stamping” attitude of Argentina’s Congressmen who make-up the “Lower House” confirms the above. The House met only eleven times in the whole 2005.

Worse, half of its members never, ever, said a single word.

Only 144 members spoke, 113 never opened their mouths, at all.

One female representative from the Northern Province of La Rioja, where former President Carlos Menem was born and where most of his former allies have now frontally betrayed him, said only three words in the whole year: “May I speak?” But since she was told: “no” by the Chair, Representative Griselda Herrera never insisted and remained completely silent for the rest of the year.

These are not high quality institutions. This is not a democratic structure. It may look as such, but it does not fool those who watch it carefully.

Sad, because Argentina is drifting away from the path Chile, across the Andes, is consolidating, i.e. a modern, transparent, and efficient democracy.

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