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The populist cycle is exhausted in Argentina. The contradictions of the model they are already impossible to hide and are pushing the country into a crisis of unfathomable proportions. Under normal conditions, the opposition should win the next presidential elections, obtaining majorities of its own in both chambers. The big question is whether JXC will be up to the challenge that lies ahead.

Increasingly, the discussions within the opposition collation are organized around a fictitious bid between “hawks” and “doves”. The names were put by the analysts but the leaders quickly appropriated them. Pigeons are supposed to cultivate moderation, prudence and consensus building. They do not believe that it is a good idea to promote drastic changes, but instead bet on modest transformations capable of attracting support on both sides of the divide. Negotiation and dialogue are its flags. By contrast, the hawks would be uncompromising idealists who want to push through structural reforms at any cost and without making concessions to the status quo. They believe that the dramatic situation in the country no longer admits gradualist experiments and maintain that dialogue with populism and corporations is a trap, a waste of time or a surrender. Change Argentina or perish trying, that would be his motto.

Unfortunately, this way of conceiving options is misleading and explains the disorientation of the opposition collation and its growing disconnection with the electorate. Refusing to build broad consensus through democratic dialogue is a mistake for any government and leads to Jacobinism. However, the dialoguing vocation is a mere form, and the forms cannot acquire priority over the contents or replace them: genuine consensus is not forged in the air but based on specific programs. It is these programs that order the dialogue and those that set the limits of what is negotiable. For this reason, when it is not accompanied by definitions, the exaltation of dialogue is reduced to pure electoral marketing. It is more a promise of continuity addressed to the political class than an effective roadmap.

But in addition, the dichotomy between hawks and doves profoundly distorts the discussion about the content of the plan that the opposition needs. In the dominant narrative, the coordinate of the center is associated with vagueness and conservatism, under the assumption that openly claiming the values ​​of progress, modernization and the social market economy is falling into a sectarian and divisive ideological extreme. But in advanced democracies, including the much celebrated Nordic social democracies, that is precisely the program of the center and the moderates. As long as the opposition interprets its situation with wrong categories, it will continue to drift and become unable to contain and channel discontent, fostering the growth of anti-system options.

Philosopher, political scientist and Konex prize for the humanities


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