walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Argentine Death Spiral Watch

It’s the oldest trick in the book: when your polls are in the dumps, try to drum up nationalist fervor over a foreign conflict and watch the voters forget what a terrible job you’re doing domestically. With growth forecasts down to as low as 1.5% for this year after holding at almost 8% in 2011, and with inflation soaring, Kristina Kirchner is trotting out the tried and true Argentinian hobby horse: the Malvinas/Falklands. Will it work? Perhaps not:

She was re-elected a year ago in a landslide victory, but her approval rating has since plummeted 40 points to just 24 per cent, according to a recent poll.

Rising street crime is Argentines’ biggest concern. The government has not released insecurity figures since 2008, but a recent survey by the Organization of American States says there are 973 thefts per 100,000 people, more than twice the continental average.

Those who rallied in Buenos Aires also condemned alleged government corruption.

This looks like a downward spiral to us. We’ve been tracking Ms. Kirchner’s descent for quite a while on Via Meadia. Back in June, we wrote:

We keep returning to the Argentine story at Via Meadia because it is such a useful (and sad) example of how democratic countries with plenty of resources can shoot themselves in the foot. Objectively, there is no reason why Argentina shouldn’t be one of the world’s most progressive and rich countries. Yet for more than 100 years it has been losing rather than gaining ground, falling behind many countries with fewer resources but better politics.

Some day, we hope, the Argentine people will truly wake up. They’ll realize that when a national leaders says, “The Malvinas are ours,” what they mean is, “The economy is going down the toilet, but you are such pathetic idiots that I can distract you with silly slogans.” When they say “Argentina does not take orders from foreign investors or the IMF,” what they mean is, “My cronies and I have now squandered and stolen so much money that the country can no longer pay its bills, but you ignorant fools won’t notice if I sing the national anthem and wave the flag.”

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