The concentration of Argentina’s political power in a strong presidential figure overshadowing the country’s institutions is holding back growth and damaging democracy, businessman and philanthropist Eduardo Costantini said.
The influence of political leaders over the congressional and judicial branches leads to “endemic corruption” and a mistrust between the public and private sectors, said Costantini, president and founder of the Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art, known as MALBA.
“The abuse of power along with a high level of endemic corruption diminishes the institutional strength of the judicial system,” Costantini said Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Economic and Political Perspectives Summit at the MALBA in Buenos Aires. “These issues are cultural characteristics of Argentina and are what need to be changed to build a true democracy and separation of powers.”
Argentina ranks 107 among 174 nations in the Transparency International ranking on perceptions of corruption, below Moldova, Bolivia and Mexico. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s hotel business in southern Argentina is being investigated for alleged tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement. Her vice president, Amado Boudou, is accused of bribery and influence peddling and is the defendant in a total of 10 cases in federal courts.
Fernandez has railed against the justice system during her eight years in power, accusing some judges of conspiring with the opposition to sully her family’s name.
While the private sector has had to learn how to install systems to renew boards and move from family-run businesses to more professionally managed companies, the government and its leaders have repeatedly tried to cling to power since the return of democracy in 1982, said Costantini, who is also chairman of asset management and real estate developer Consultatio.
With elections slated for Oct. 25 set to end the 12-year rule of the Kirchner family, Argentina should look to strengthen the political party system over individual candidates, he said.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is a supporter of the MALBA.