One foreign correspondent’s view on today’s electoral process, with a firsthand perspective of the scene from presidential candidate Roberto Lavanga’s campaign bunker in Costa Salguero. Por Rachel Wolf
UNA candidate Roberto Lavagna’s campaign bunker was a sea of blue and white, with both of the open rooms (there was a third room in the back for political advisors and the candidates) plastered with Argentine flags and campaign posters. Television monitors in the second room followed the elections as updated news came in, and computers were available for journalists to do their own research, send emails, and write briefs.
At 4:30 pm, well before the polls closed, there were already a good number of members of the press in the bunker, periodically making live reports about the day’s electoral process. The biggest news seemed to be the missing ballots for various parties in various parts of the country.
Finally, a little after 6:00, the campaign spokesman made his first appearance at the podium and made a formal denouncement of the massive shortage of ballots. He appeared again at 7:40, emphasizing the electoral laws and norms; that it was imperative that the electoral process went according to the mark of the law. An hour later he gave another short speech, advising the citizens and the press corps that the campaign was unable to talk about the results until after 9:00; that they would continue waiting on news until it was legal to announce the numbers.
Unfortunately, this final announcement made it very clear that Lavagna would not be appearing for quite a while, and this tired foreign correspondent decided to call it a day.
The spokesman’s speeches seemed fairly typical of a second or third place candidate with little hopes of an electoral victory. Instead of announcing defeat, he spoke of the process and the importance of staying within the laws, and postponed speaking of specific results until the last moment.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the day (besides experiencing a press-conference firsthand and watching live news coverage), was hearing about the ballot shortage and learning about the way ballots are cast, which differs significantly from the process in the United States.
For those readers who are not aware of the process, here is a brief overview: rather than using a single ballot with all of the candidates listed, each party has its own ballot, with a the names of its various candidates for the different positions. A voter that wants to vote along party lines can use that single ballot. However, it is also possible to cast votes for candidates for different parties. In this case, the voter needs to use multiple ballots and physically cut the ballot with scissors to piece together the preferred slate. When the Lavagna spokesman speaks of missing ballots, he is referring to a systematic shortage of certain parties’ ballots. While the major news sources made no mention of fraud in their reports, to the foreign eye this seems very suspicious and seems to explain in part why my taxi driver home from the bunker would say, “La gente está cansada. Siempre mentiras.”