Kirchner Specter Haunts Palace as Macri Tries to Erase Policies

  • Macri in fight to erase Kirchners’ populist legacy in election
  • Argentines are growing impatient on uneven economic recovery

The mural of former President Nestor Kirchner outside President Mauricio Macri’s office sent a strong warning: The Kirchner political dynasty isn’t dead.

Two weeks before a key Argentine election deadline, a 12-by-12-foot image of Kirchner haunts the front of Macri’s office, the Casa Rosada palace. It’s a potent reminder for Macri that erasing the 12-year legacy of Kirchner and his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won’t be so easy. The Kirchners isolated the South American nation from capital markets and prolonged a feud with creditors into a 15th year.

Graffiti depicting Former President Nestor Kirchner is seen in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires on June 12.

Photographer: Sarah Pabst/Bloomberg

Macri and his coalition Cambiemos want more seats in congress to cement reforms he began in December 2015. He needs to do that to slam the door on a return of the Kirchner style of politics, which he says was propelling the country toward a fate similar to Venezuela. The October elections will pit Macri’s investor friendly approach against Cristina, who may run for senate on a populist platform.

Read More About Macri’s Rise and the Kirchner Downfall

Macri hasn’t had much good news to hold on to Kirchner supporters he wooed in 2015 with the promise to end years of isolation and a stagnant economy. Cristina has tapped into the economic disappointment, which includes inflation near 24 percent and an economy struggling to shake off a recession. The Kirchners created a wing of Peronism, which models itself after populist former President Juan Domingo Peron.

A senate seat for Cristina “would help galvanize the opposition,” said Daniel Kerner, head of Latin America at Eurasia Group. That would put off investors through 2019, complicating Macri’s plans, Kerner said.

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