Corruption and Depoliticization Campaigns in Argentina

A recent and solid op-ed by Andrés Asiain ran in Pagina 12 – an Argentine left-of-center daily – criticizing the use of anti-corruption campaigns by economic and media elites to further disenchant a populace already tired of corrupt politicians. The assertion is that these campaigns allow counterintuitively for an further deepening of the ties of policy outcomes with corruption. As he writes, “moral campaigns do not seek to improve the transparency of politics.”

More interestingly, Asiain engages the Cambiemos mantra pounding the corruption of the Kirchner administrations – noting that the current president’s family wealth came during the “heat of the contract state” – and the oft used phrase “They stole our GDP.” Now, this was an effective campaign slogan because it allowed the mind to wander about the size of the graft – and of course the was graft – without any responsibility by the hurlers of the charge with providing proof and amounts.

So, Asiain plays it out. Taking at the high end of estimates, he suggests that only 2% of the GDP could have been diverted for corrupt purposes. I concede this amounts to some serious cash being diverted, but the author’s point is that it is far smaller than what charge would have folk believe otherwise. And therein lies the effectiveness of the allegation and campaign slogan.

And yet, with the anti-corruption campaigns spreading throughout, the question remains, “What change will actually happen in the practicing of politics in Latin America?”

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