There were more than 600 thousand blank and null votes cast on Sunday’s presidential elections, a majority of which were conscious votes against the austerity and cutbacks that will inevitably be carried out by business mogul (president-elect) Mauricio Macri. Although we expected a higher total, it is evident that the demagogic turn of Scioli in the last weeks of the political campaign influenced a significant sector of the workers. We were the only political coalition that, in the midst of the campaign, denounced the coming cutbacks that would be imposed against the interests of the workers and the people. Scioli didn’t mention this at all during the first round of the campaign. His own economists confirmed that they would eventually carry out austerity measures in order to make the workers pay for the crisis. They also promised to negotiate with the “vulture funds” and thereby drag Argentina into a new cycle of debt with an ending we already know. At the same time, Scioli announced his decision to make the repressor Berni his Security Minister and he surrounded himself with politicians like Gioja, a Barrick Gold executive.
In the last two weeks before the runoff, made desperate from his impending defeat, Scioli was forced to acknowledge many truths: the devaluation that Macri will carry out means a huge transfer of wealth from the workers and the people to the most concentrated sectors of the capitalists, big banks and major exporting companies — a new looting being carried out against the working class. But Scioli had no alternate plan, as he himself was preparing to govern in favor of the ruling classes and would not have been substantially different than Macri if he won the elections. Moreover, as I said yesterday, many years of playing into the hands of the right wing, brought about Macri’s victory.
But, as I mentioned, there were many workers who believed that Macri would wipe away all their gains and considered a vote for Scioli in the runoffs as a rejection of Macri. In reality, the idea of a “lesser evil” was a trap set for the working class.
The next months will be tough for the workers and the people. Most of the union leaders will be try to maneuver in various ways in order to avoid losing their privileges, leaving the workers on their own.
The Left and the Workers’ Front is the only nation-wide political force that has maintained from the start, in all our TV and radio appearances, that we must resist the coming austerity measures. Furthermore, we stated that we must fight for all workers to earn a salary at least equal to the cost of living; for all retirees to earn at least 82 percent of their last salary; for an end to the tax on wages and sales tax; for the prohibition of layoffs and dismissals.
In order to keep our gains and victories, it is necessary to contest the profit of the capitalists, who have made enormous fortunes in recent years. We demand progressive taxes on the biggest fortunes and the use of these resources for a national housing plan. We want a single national bank in order to stop the flight of capital, to remove national savings from the hands of the big banks and make credit available to small-scale businesses and producers. We fight for a state monopoly over foreign trade, against a system in which a few monopolies run the customs and the ports at the expense of the small-scale producers. We demand the prohibition of the environmentally destructive large-scale mines throughout the whole country.
Today, we are aware that most of the working class rejects austerity, but did not follow our call for a blank ballot or null vote. In the end, they voted for one of the two employer parties.
We will meet again in the upcoming struggles against fee hikes, layoffs and dismissals that right-wing Macri wants to apply, and against the union bureaucrats. At the same time, we will continue fighting for the need of a workers’ political instrument, the only means to overcome the logic of the “lesser evil”, and fight instead for a “greater good” for the people—a government of the workers.
*Translation: Gloria Grinberg