Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Power shift

For those of you who are checking in via Google Reader, drop by the actual blog to see the election-day slide show above. Thanks.

On Sunday, Argentina had legislative elections – half the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and a third of the seats in the Senate. Despite being midterm elections, this was a pretty big deal because there was an important shift in power. Until yesterday, Argentina was operating under a situation similar to what's going on in the United States. The majority in the legislature was the same party as the president, just like we have a Democrat majority in Congress and a Democrat in the White House.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is a Peronist, which was the same the party started by Argentina's sweetheart Evita and her husband Juan Perón. Before Cristina (who is, coincidentally, the country's first elected female president) became president in 2007, her husband, Néstor Kirchner, served in the office for a term after disgraced ex-President Carlos Menem withdrew from the run-off race in 2003.

But on Sunday, Argentines made it clear they want to take a different path than the one they've been on for the last nine years. Néstor Kirchner lost the race for a Senate seat in the province of Buenos Aires, and for the first time in recent memory, power will have to be shared between the executive and legislative branches.

Not only does this mean a difference in the political atmosphere of the country, but it also means the beginning of a possible departure away from Peronist politics, as Néstor Kirchner is currently the president of the party.

One of my friends, Cierra Obioha, wanted to go out and cover the election like the motivated reporter she is, so she asked me to tag along and produce the pictures while she did the interviews. Our project should be up soon. I'll post a link when it is.

In the meantime, here's a fun story. After getting pictures of the Casa Rosada and the Palacio del Congreso, I was walking toward the Subte station so I could go home after reporting all day. I was walking by the Hotel Bauen when I noticed a hive of activity outside. I figured it was probably where a candidate was going to give their post-election victory or defeat speech, and kept walking.

But then I decided to go back and find out who exactly it was, just in case it was Kirchner (because that would have been sweet). I asked a photographer, who was smoking outside, what was going on. It turned out I was right, but it wasn't Kirchner's hotel. Instead, the hotel was the victory bunker of Pino Solanas, an Argentine film director who was running on the Proyecto Sur ticket. I told the photographer that I was a studying journalism, and trying to make small talk, joked that I should have tried to get a press pass.

"Well, you should go in and ask for one," he said, point with his cigarette toward the inside the hotel.

So I walked inside, asked where the press table was, and waited to talk to one of the organizers. I explained that I was studying journalism and interning in Buenos Aires for the summer, and I asked if there was any way I could get press credentials. She asked me where I was interning.

"We've already got someone here from Terra," she said. "But, what's your name?"

And then she filled out a press pass for me and turned me loose on the hotel. Success.

Recommended reading:
Argentina's legislative election: Double or quits | The Economist

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