May 13, 2019

Populism's Latin American revival could reach Argentina

Here for the book club? Fernández supporters at the launch of her new book, "Sincerely." Photo: Emiliano Lasalvia/AFP/Getty Images

Argentina's center-right ruling coalition suffered a resounding defeat Sunday in regional elections, but the lessons ahead of October's presidential vote are less clear cut.

The big picture: The landslide winner in Córdoba, incumbent Gov. Juan Schiaretti, falls between two pillars of Argentine politics — Mauricio Macri, the unpopular president, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, his populist predecessor. Fernández is aiming for a political comeback despite facing a slew of corruption charges.

  • "Amid economic turmoil that has battered Argentina’s markets, job losses and stubborn inflation, hard-hit voters have been losing faith in Macri, though many are wary of turning back to ... Fernández, seen as the likely main contender," per Reuters.
  • What to watch: A recent poll put Fernández 9 points ahead of Macri in a hypothetical second-round matchup. Fernández held a campaign-style rally last week to launch her new book, which is already a smash hit, the FT reports.

Flashback, from the FT's outgoing Latin America editor John Paul Rathbone:

  • "[F]our years ago, I was amazed, as were many, when [Macri] unexpectedly won Argentina’s presidency. He was young, apparently sensible and open-minded. Most important of all, he was unencumbered by ideology or nostalgic nationalism."
  • "Wonderful irony: perhaps the continent was at last rejecting the siren call of populism, just as the west had begun to embrace it. Yet now, the region, or at least Brazil and Mexico, have apparently returned to form and elected 'national saviors' as their leaders. Is there ever an escape from the labyrinth?"

Zoom out: The Economist lays out "clear signs of disenchantment with democracy" across Latin America in this week's edition.

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins