December 4, 2023

Win or lose, presidential candidate Javier Milei has already supplied a priceless service to Argentine society: he forces us to ask how electoral campaigns are financed. As a result of one dimension is the official actuality, the one that’s declared on paper, and a really totally different one is the actual actuality. Or, according to the vary of greenback costs that we now have, the financing blue. And this goes to all those that dream of the Casa Rosada. Sean Sergio Massa, Milei himself, Patricia Bullrich or Horacio Rodriguez Larreta.

Milei opened up concerning the scenario out of necessity, not as a result of she wished to. She reacted as a result of it got here to gentle that she arrange a system of electoral “franchises”. In different phrases, that those that need to run for elective workplace inside their house should pay a charges in {dollars} to maintain the candidacy they need. After all, they will pay in installments.

The franchise system, to name it one way or the other, has some caveats. For instance, when the particular person is well-known and attracts votes on their very own advantage. In that case, he doesn’t should ship an envelope or briefcase filled with {dollars} to Milei’s operators. However the remainder –whether or not they dream of being councillors, mayors, provincial legislators and even governors or nationwide deputies-, should contribute inexperienced. Massive face, if doable.

Within the e book How democracies dieTwo Harvard professors – Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt – expose one other threat. They emphasize that one of many features of political events is –or ought to be- to advertise the promotion of the very best amongst their very own and stop the worst from reaching an area of energy. However that filter disappears when the one requirement comes within the type of $100 payments. This might occur, for instance, {that a} legal clan or a drug boss pay to maintain all of the functions of their enterprise space. Does it ring loads? The Nationwide Electoral Chamber warned about this threat two months in the past.

Removed from backing down from the controversy, nevertheless, Milei doubled down. She denounced that she was dealing with “the most important smear marketing campaign in Argentine historical past” and that journalism and lots of others utilized a double normal to her. As a result of her candidates paid for the marketing campaign along with her financial savings, she accused her, whereas her contenders move the cap between businessmen and drug traffickers or divert public funds.

Milei thus supplied a service to the neighborhood. For 3 many years it has been an open secret {that a} presidential marketing campaign prices 100 million {dollars} in Argentina, though that determine can fluctuate vastly in every electoral cycle. It isn’t the identical a contest in instances of thick or skinny cows, of excessive or ironing {dollars}, of few or many candidates, or that the polls present them face to face or in notable disparity, amongst different components.

However supposing, even, {that a} presidential marketing campaign price this yr barely a tenth of that magic quantity, the contributions that the State supplies by regulation will solely cowl part of the actual bills of every candidate. How will they remedy the remainder? For years, we now have additionally recognized that those that are within the public service drink from the state faucet by diverting funds or utilizing state sources, such because the “sanitary planes” of the provinces that truly take and convey governors and candidates. It’s so well-known that political scientists body it as one of many aspects of the so-called pitched area. I invite the reader to examine on Google that it’s not one thing new.

All this involves gentle on only a few events. Usually, because of errors or setbacks. So we had the decision trigger Notebooks, For instance, with dozens of businessmen who reported how they transferred baggage filled with {dollars}, euros or pesos with Kirchnerist referents, both for bribes or as “marketing campaign contributions.” Nothing new. In 2007, the identical factor occurred with the referents of the “drug mafia”. And we additionally had Juntos por el Cambio, which in 2017 went to a whole bunch and a whole bunch of beneficiaries of social plans in a shameful try to launder fortunes that it had collected in the dead of night.

These practices and deviations – for sure – don’t solely happen in Argentina. There are many examples in Latin America and all over the world. Now we have Brazilian, Peruvian and different international locations within the hemisphere who’re parading by the courts for receiving illicit cash from Odebrecht for his or her campaigns. Or former French President Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced to a yr in jail for illegally financing his 2012 marketing campaign. Or Donald Trump’s former private lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded responsible to electoral crimes.

Nevertheless, the truth that all this -and more- is true, recognized and widespread amongst Argentine politicians and all over the world doesn’t exempt Milei from accountability or reproach, nor his rivals this yr. She ought to lead them to not fall into the identical vices, however to count on that may be naive. Extra related, it ought to lead us, the residents of Argentina and different international locations, to demand electoral reforms that impose actual sanctions on candidates who violate these legal guidelines, exhaustive management and their efficient software.

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