Already at the beginning of this century, the Swedish economists Kjell A. Nordström and Jonas Ridderstråle wrote Karaoke Capitalism: Managing for Humanity, in which they predicted that cheaper means of production would tear down income barriers keeping existing organizations in dominant positions, with the supply of everything growing faster than the demand. “Karaoke” because many will sing the same song (albeit in different versions) – their product or service. This is seen most clearly in today’s digital world – an OTT media service, an online service for urban transport, tourism, etc. starts successfully and dozens of versions are born.
This is also the case for political parties which, like any competing organization in the market economy, compete for attention in a context of increasingly fragmented supply. This is why almost no party can accumulate a sufficient critical mass of votes to win an election, so that party coalitions are the electoral method that has emerged to remedy the transformation of parties into “commodities”. He worked electorally in 2015 in Argentina with the PRO, the Radicals UCR and ARI in Cambiemos and he worked in 2019 with the Kirchnerisme, the Peronists PJ and the Renewal Front in Frente de Todos. But at the same time, it didn’t work as a government either for Mauricio Macri or for Alberto Fernández. In the case of Macri, because the radicals felt ostracized and mistreated, a tendency is echoed today in Juntos por el Cambio, while for Alberto Fernández, being hounded in a real or symbolic form by the Kirchner’s figure of Cristina Fernández has stripped away her executive decision-making ability.
If coalitions are the enduring form by which representative democracy adapts to the conditions of today’s social possibilities, the system of internal election within them and the distribution of power and governmental responsibilities after their triumph will also have to be adapted. The PASO primaries, for example, so useful in so many ways, must be adjusted to allow presidential tickets to combine candidates between the winning list and the second with the first in the top half and the second in the bottom of the list . different territories.
The same goes for the distribution of domains of government. Macri distributed consolation prizes to the radicals while Alberto Fernández accepted that the minister of one wing of the coalition be seconded by the other wing, thus transforming the latter into a political commissar preventing the actions of the first in any way or in part. Examples would be former Justice Minister Marcela Losardo and Justice Secretary Juan Martín Mena, or Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and his cons with his Energy Secretary Federico Basualdo, with ministers loyal to Alberto and their second in command in Cristina.
The countries with the longest experience of coalition governments (Germany being the emblematic case) distribute executive responsibilities in complete domains, entrusting certain ministries to one or the other of the coalition parties. This requires prior agreements to form governments, which in systems of presidential rather than parliamentary democracy must be made before elections.
An example would be Juntos por el Cambio, where the candidates of each party with the greatest possibilities of access to the presidential ticket, the mayor of the city of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and the radical legislator Facundo Manes, have different profiles which, previously completed, would maximize their attributes by transforming their differences into advantages instead of canceling each other out. A primary could be offered in which the winner runs for president and the runner-up for vice-president, but there could also be an executive with a series of areas (ministries) very specifically tailored to their personal skills or philosophy. of his party. Manes is the clearest example of this, due to his superior excellence in knowledge related to human development, which is at the same time the great problem of modern Argentina with most of the poor young people, a sort of Domingo Sarmiento or Nicolás Avellaneda of the 21st century on whom the Ministries of Education, Health, Social Development, Science and Culture would depend.
The United Nations produces an index that measures the evolution of the wealth of nations, made up of three components: natural resources, investment in infrastructure and human development of the population. It is not necessary to resort to Michel Foucault’s biopolitical notions to understand that the quality of a society’s human resources determines the degree of economic development that it can achieve.
But regardless of this example, where the leadership of Facundo Manes in human development should be capital that could be used even if the Frente de Todos wins, the important thing is always the system, which transcends people. No matter who wins in 2023, this president will not have the attributes of self-sufficiency that Macri, the Kirchner couple, Carlos Menem or Raúl Alfonsín had. Macri will likely prove to be the last president who tried – and to some extent succeeded – in exercising absolute power. And Alberto Fernández will probably be the first president of a saga where no one will exercise power as in the past.
These weak presidents should be balanced by strong and institutionalized coalitions, with rules of power sharing and access to power firmly established between them and transparent pacts with the society that votes for them. Returning to the Swedes, Nordström and Ridderstråle (including the president of the association of political advisers and Profile the columnist Carlos Fara often quotes): a higher supply than demand inevitably weakens suppliers, but on the contrary, a monopoly and, to a lesser extent, a dominant position empowers them.
We live in an age of weak power and narratives where means end up making a difference that ideas cannot. Leaders like Cristina Fernández de Kirchner or Mauricio Macri may end up representing connections to an era to which we cannot return – characterized by strong certainties, strong narratives and strong leaders.