In the wake of the country's 2002 economic collapse, the Argentine Congress gave the executive immense powers on the grounds that the circumstances called for extraordinary government action.
Seven years later those powers have not been rescinded and the state dominates the economy as an owner and regulator. Argentina now faces the threat of a further consolidation of control by President Cristina Kirchner through means similar to those employed by Hugo Chávez. As in Venezuela, free speech and the free press are being targeted for increased repression.
Let this be a lesson to any modern democracy that cedes broad power to government in a time of crisis: Granting power to the executive is easy; getting it back isn't.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady is, in my opinion, the world's best journalist covering Latin America. I've kept close watch on developments there since living in Argentina in the late 1970s and covering the region as an analyst, so I can vouch for her deep understanding of the problems that have plagued the countries to our south. Today she writes about the ongoing disaster that is Argentina's government. A succession of presidents have vastly expanded the power of the executive branch, all in the name of resolving crises precipitated by the actions of previous administrations. The parallels to the Bush bailouts, the Obama stimulus spending, the Obama GM takeover, the Obama urge to control executive salaries, and the Obama proposal to create a vast new financial regulatory appartus are obvious and, needless to say, profoundly disturbing.
Posted by Scott Grannis at 9:11 AM