Not my thoughts, but those of John Carey, who sent them to me via e-mail. I had been thinking along similar lines, but as usual, John is more articulate than I am. So I am transplanting from the e-mail to here, with John’s permission, of course.
Do the Argentine electoral results demonstrate conclusively that Fernandez de K made a colossal strategic error in moving the election date up?
Let’s think about the counterfactuals. First, when she declared the June election date, the initial interpretation was that given the way the economy was headed (and expected to continue to head), the value of the Kirchner label was inevitably going to decline, so better to lock in a ‘price’ (i.e. some share of votes/seats) earlier than later when the expected value would be even lower. Is it possible that, as badly as things went for Cristina and Nestor, she was correct in that things would have been even worse had she waited until spring?
Of course, one danger Cristina may not have fully appreciated could be that the transparent political calculation of moving the date for such purposes itself alienates voters and costs the Kirchners support. Is there any evidence that this was the case? Or is the larger-than-expected electoral loss attributed to other strategic mistakes, like loading up lists with a bunch of show-pony candidates everyone knew wouldn’t serve even if elected?
Finally, what happens now? Back in 1989, when the Argentine Constitution used to provide for an 8-month time window between the presidential election and inauguration, Alfonsin stepped down 6 months early, allowing Menem to take office early, basically acknowledging that the results had repudiated his party and government. Is Argentina going to sit on a Kircher-ite congressional majority for 6 months now? Would they dare to legislate?
Good questions. For some related thoughts, see also boz.