In “Argentine Leader Raises Cash Handouts 35 Percent,” Michael Warren discusses Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s (CFK) May 22 announcement to increase annual conditional cash transfers (CCTs) by $3.2 billion USD. However, he fails to adequately address the political significance of her announcement. On October 27, Argentina will hold legislative elections in which one third of the country’s senate seats (24) and half of its lower house seats (127) are up for election. These elections have the potential to extend CFK’s time in office; with a congressional majority, CFK could pass a constitutional reform which would allow her to run for a third term. Consequently, most of her actions as Argentine president must be examined through the lens of whether she stands to benefit politically from them. Increasing social spending by expanding CCT programs (e.g. government handouts), despite the soaring inflation and the central bank’s declining reserves, is a politically motivated endeavor aimed at appealing to the Argentine poor, who have been especially hard-hit by the country’s economic difficulties. With only a 34 percent approval rating in March, and 55 percent of survey respondents pessimistic about the economy, CFK’s attempt to stimulate the economy through CCT expansion is clearly also an attempt to boost her approval ratings in the wake of the upcoming elections.
Rebecca Lullo, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
In response to the Miami Herald article: Argentine leader raises cash handouts 35 percent
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