Kirchnerism (Spanish: kirchnerismo [ˈkiɾ.ʃneɾ.is.mo]) is an Argentine political movement formed by the supporters of the late Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, and of his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Senator from 1995-1997, 2001-2007, 2017-2019, President from 2007 until 2015 and Vice-President since 2019. Although the Kirchners are members of the Justicialist Party (the original, official and largest Peronist party founded by Juan Perón in 1947), Peronism itself is a broad movement and many Peronists oppose them ("Anti-Kirchnerist Peronism"). Kirchnerism is generally considered to fall into the category of left-wing populism.
Although originally a faction in the Justicialist Party, Kirchnerism later received support from other smaller Argentine political parties (like the Communist Party or the Humanist Party) and from factions of some traditional parties (like the Radical Civic Union and the Socialist Party). In parties which are divided along Kirchnerist/Anti-Kirchnerist lines, the members of the Kirchnerist faction are often distinguished with the letter K (for instance "peronistas/justicialistas K", "radicales K" or "socialistas K") while the factions opposing Kirchnerism are similarly labeled with the expression "anti-K".
In response to the rise of Kirchnerism, the term "anti-Kirchnerism" has arisen to describe those sectors and persons, as much within as without Peronism, who opposed the governments of Kirchner and Fernández.
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Both Kirchner and Fernández come from the left-wing of Peronism and both began their political careers as members of the Peronist Youth (Juventud Peronista). Many of the Kirchners' closest allies belong to the Peronist left. Anti-Kirchnerists often criticize this ideological background with the term setentista ("seventies-ist"), suggesting that Kirchnerism is overly influenced by the populist struggle of the 1970s.
- Kirchnerism has shown itself to be concerned with the defense of human rights, particularly in prosecuting those who committed human rights violations during the Dirty War and were later made immune from prosecution by the governments of Carlos Menem (1989–1999). The willingness of the Kirchner government to revoke these immunities has led many Argentine pressure groups, such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo and Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, to take an actively Kirchnerist position. This has led to many controversies and to allegations that the Kirchners were never fully committed to human rights, especially during the period of the last military dictatorship, and that it was only when Kirchner became President and began to make alliances with the left-wing parties in Congress and with the Madres de Plaza de Mayo that he started to campaign about these rights in order to promote his own platform and gain popular favor. It is documented nevertheless that the Kirchners did push for trial against human rights violators during the dictatorship, although late in that period in 1983, when its end was already in sight.
- Kirchnerism has shown itself to be expressly opposed to neoliberal policies. However, while governor of the province of Santa Cruz, Kirchner publicly supported neoliberal President Carlos Menem, going as far as claiming that "since the times of that great General (Perón) there hasn't been a president that has listened so much to the southern Patagonia and Santa Cruz in particular".
- Economically, Kirchnerism has pursued an economic policy of industrialist developmentalism. They do not allow importation of goods that are produced in Argentina to protect local industry and employment.
- Kirchnerism has strongly opposed multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements pursued by the United States. The climax of this policy occurred with the confrontation between Kirchner and George W. Bush at the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas in 2005, which resulted in Argentina's refusal to sign the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement.
- Internationally, Kirchnerism has strongly supported Mercosur and vice versa, to the point that the President of Mercosur, Carlos Álvarez, is a Kirchnerist.
- One of the most prominent aims of Kirchnerism is to strengthen Argentine relations with the countries of Latin America and to establish a South American economic axis. Recent economic measures posited by Fernández's government have nevertheless hurt Argentina's relationship with these countries, mainly Brazil and Uruguay, whose President José "Pepe" Mujica expressed worries regarding Argentina going towards an "autarkist" form of government and the Kirchnerist economic model "complicating relationships and multiplying difficulties" in bilateral commerce.
- Kirchnerism, in particular former minister of health Ginés González García, has shown a liberal attitude to birth control and sexuality, including the legalization of same-sex marriage, both of which have provoked the opposition of the Catholic Church and other conservative sectors.
Five Economic Tenets
According to Alberto Fernández, Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers during the first 5 years of Kirchnerism, they followed five tenets regarding the economy, which explained the perceived early success of the movement:
- "Take no measures that increase the fiscal deficit"
- "Take no measures that increase the trade deficit"
- "Accumulate reserves in the central bank"
- "Keep the exchange rate very high to stay competitive and favor exports"
- "Pay off the external debt and do not acquire new debt"
According to him, after Néstor Kirchner died, Cristina Kirchner moved away from these five tenets, causing an economic crisis that resulted in the first political defeat of Kirchnerism in a presidential election in 2015.
Unlike his predecessor Eduardo Duhalde, Kirchner was a Peronist that distrusted the Justicialist Party as a support for his government. He proposed instead a "transversalist" policy, seeking the support of progressive politicians regardless of their party. Thus he got support from factions of the Justicialist Party, the Radical Civic Union (which were called "Radicales K") and small centre-left parties.
Kirchner neglected the internal politics of the Justicialist Party and kept instead the Front for Victory party, which was initially an electoral alliance in his home province of Santa Cruz and in the 2003 elections premiered in the federal political scene. Some politicians favored by this policy were Aníbal Ibarra, mayor of Buenos Aires for the Broad Front and supported as Kirchnerist; and Julio Cobos, governor of Mendoza for the UCR and elected as vicepresident of Fernández in 2007.
The transversalist project was eventually dismissed. Kirchner took control of the Justicialist Party and some "Radicales K", slowly returned to the "anti-K" faction of their party, most notably Vice President Julio Cobos and Governor of Catamarca province Eduardo Brizuela del Moral, while other very prominent Radical politicians remained in the "K" wing of the Radical Civic Union such as provincial governors Gerardo Zamora of Santiago del Estero, Ricardo Colombi of Corrientes and Miguel Saiz of Río Negro.
Kirchnerism has encountered opposition from various sectors of Argentine society, which tend to criticize its personalism.
In 2012, there was a massive anti-Kirchnerism protest in several cities within Argentina and also in several Argentinian embassies around the world. It became known as 8N.
In 2015, when Foreign Policy was discussing corruption in Latin America it was stated that:
The viceroys of the colonial era set the pattern. They centralised power and bought the loyalty of local interest groups. [...] Caudillos, dictators and elected presidents continued the tradition of personalising power. Venezuela's chavismo and the kirchnerismo of Ms Fernández are among today’s manifestations.
In an editorial published in October 2015, The Economist expressed the following view about the situation in Argentina:
Argentina needs change. As Ms Fernández slips out of office the economy is starting to crumble. Currency controls and trade restrictions [...] are choking productivity; inflation hovers at around 25%. [...] Argentina cannot seek external financing until it ends its standoff with creditors who rejected a debt-restructuring plan. Unless the new president quickly reverses Ms Fernández’s populist policies, a crisis is inevitable"
- "Argentina's Kirchner Era Ends". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Conniff, Michael L. (31 July 2012). Populism in Latin America: Second Edition. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 9780817357092.
- Denissen, Marieke (1 October 2008). Winning Small Battles, Losing the War: Police Violence, the Movimiento Del Dolor and Democracy in Post-authoritarian Argentina. Rozenberg Publishers. ISBN 9051709641.
- Manzetti, Luigi (1 January 2009). Neoliberalism, Accountability, and Reform Failures in Emerging Markets: Eastern Europe, Russia, Argentina, and Chile in Comparative Perspective. Penn State Press. ISBN 0271035749.
- Reencuentro de Carlotto y Bonafini. Las titulares de las Abuelas y Madres de Plaza de Mayo fueron reunidas por Kirchner, Clarín 26 de mayo de 2006.
- "Nestor Kirchner pide juicio a las Juntas Militares en 1983" - Video in Spanish.
- "Kirchner: 'Menem el mejor presidente desde Perón". - Video in Spanish.
- Bush y el ALCA sufrieron duro traspié en Mar del Plata, Voltaire net, 2005.
- "Brasil intimó a Cristina: 'Tienen que desaparecer las barreras'" - Article in Spanish.
- "José Mujica acusó a la Argentina de tener un proyecto 'autárquico' de país" - Article in Spanish.
- Ginés García legalizaría el aborto, La Nación, 15 de febrero de 2005. Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "Las 5 medidas de Alberto Fernández para levantar la economía". www.tiempoar.com.ar (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-09-25.
- Fraga, p. 46–47.
- Néstor Kirchner y Cristina Fernández con la Legrand: “Yo completaré mi mandato”, Página/12, 16 de mayo de 2003.
- "Democracy to the rescue?". Foreign Policy. 14 March 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
- "The end of kirchnerismo". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Rosendo Fraga (2010) Fin de ciKlo: ascenso, apogeo y declinación del poder kirchnerista, Buenos Aires, Ediciones B.
- (in Spanish) Kirchnerism launches its own syndical movement, Clarín, February 12, 2006
- (in Spanish) Practical guide to the complexities of Kirchnerism, by Diego Schurman, Página/12, February 12, 2006
- (in Spanish) When and how will Kirchnerism be defeated?, by Mariano Grondona in La Nación, August 26, 2007.
- (in Spanish) The battle for common sense: the road to a kirchnerist hegemony? by Raquel San Martín in La Nación, April 18, 2011