Week 3: Question 1

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Authors: Mary Beth, Brent, and Dillon Argentina currently has a presidential system of government. This means that they have a President, elected by the people of the country, who is separate from the legislature. This system creates checks and balances between the President and the legislature, as oppose to the Parliamentary system where the Parliament can change the prime minister as they please. The President is elected every four years, with a direct popular system of voting. There is the possibility of serving two consecutive terms. After one term out of office, the president may run for office again. If the president does not win with 45% of the popular vote, or have 40% and a 10% margin over the next closest candidate, then there is a runoff between the top two candidates. With a few exceptions, it is mandatory for persons of age 18 through 70 to vote. The Vice-President is elected on the same ballot as the president, but is not considered a part of the executive branch, according to the constitution. He is in fact considered part of the legislative branch because he serves as the President of the Senate. The legislature consists of a National Congress, and Senate. The members of the Senate serve 6 year terms. There are three seat constituencies. One third are elected every two years. Two seats are awarded to the largest party or coalition and one is awarded to the second largest. The members of the congress serve 4 year terms and half are elected every two years. A system of proportional representation using the D'Hondt method, is used to directly elect the congress (the D'Hondt method slightly favors larger parties). The system of Ballotage, or runoff voting, used for the president is very good for a country such as Argentina. With so many political parties that stand for nearly the same thing, it would be quite easy for someone who the majority of the nation does not support to come into power. With the system in place in Argentina, a bare minimum of 40% must vote for the president, if this does not occur in the first election, then the candidate must receive more than 50% in the runoff in order to take office as president. The Congress is also arranged in a way that is favorable for a country with so many political parties. With the proportional representation of the Congress, many parties can be accommodated. The implementation of the D'Hondt method allows for slight advantage to be placed upon the majority party, enabling them better leverage in the voting and therefore a better chance of overcoming any slight partisan resistance. The Senate is organized in a way similar to that implemented by Pinochet in Chile near the end of his time in power. This system is better than a Plurality voting system, for a country with so many parties, because in a Plurality voting system, the majority winner has power vastly disproportionate, towards their favor, to the support that they received in their constituency during the election. In Chile, the system had two seat constituencies, which allows a party representation with as little as 33.4% of the votes. This weighs the power evenly between the top 2 parties. This system promoted a strong 2 party system in Chile. The system in Argentina is a three seat constituency system. This further advocates minority parties. In this system, a party needs only 25.1% of the votes in order to be elected. Hopefully this system will support consolidation of parties in Argentina, as the similar system did in Chile. We propose to change the Argentine system from a Presidential system, to a Semi-Presidential System. Argentina has historically had a problem with violent change between regimes. When a president comes into power, all of the past president's policies, whether good or bad, are demonized and changed. This causes the loss of many good policies. With the current Presidential system, it would appear that it would be very easy to continue this trend. Kirschner's Presidency appears to revolve far more around him as the central figure, than his party as the governing one. In a Semi-Presidential system, some of the emphasis will be taken off of the President, so as to make the transition between presidents more smooth. A parliamentary system would take more emphasis off of the President, but would be a greater change for the country. A change that in this delicate time, after so much turmoil, should be avoided in order to espouse the continuation of growth in the economy, and comparative political tranquility. A Semi-Presidential system consists of a president, prime minister, and parliament. In our proposed change, the Parliament of Argentina will be exactly the same as the current Legislature. It will continue to be bi-camarel, and the members will be elected in the same manner. The change will be in the addition of a prime minister, and the limiting of the President's power. Our model, in the area will be France (and more directly Finland, that modeled their government after France). The President will be in charge of foreign policy and the Prime Minister will be in charge of domestic policy, as is the case in practice in France, and constitutionally in Finland. In our system the President will be elected just as the current President is elected in Argentina. The Prime Minister will also be an elected official, elected in the same way as the President, but on a separate ballot at the end of the second year of the Presidents term. This will allow for domestic policy and foreign policy each changing every 4 years, but alternating, to make the transitions more smooth. Historically, in the United Sates, some presidents have been far better in domestic policy than in their foreign policy, and the inverse has been true as well. This system will eliminate the need for an individual to choose whether domestic or foreign policy is more important to them, because they could choose one candidate to vote for based on each. Both the President and Prime Minister will retain the line-item veto power, now held by the President, but only in relation to bills falling under their domain. The Parliament will not have the power to hold a vote of no confidence (such as the parliament of Great Britain can) on the Prime Minister or the President , but will have to impeach either to have them removed (such as is done in the United States). In essence, the current presidency will be split between two individuals. In Argentina's multi-party environment, where so many of the parties differ so little, this will allow one party to be in power over domestic policy, and another to be in power over foreign. It will allow the people of the country to have more specific choice in their representation. It will guard against Presidents and Prime ministers who are incapable in either foreign or domestic policy. It will allow for more specific focus on both domestic policy by the Prime Minister, and foreign policy by the President. It will allow for the instantaneous decision making ability that a president has, and a parliament does not, and still keep both the President and Prime Minister quite far from dictatorial powers. It will destroy the trend of abolishing all policies of the previous administration, and ensure a smooth political system, free of coups, and crisis.
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Something that has surprised me here is the poor that beg within restaurants, cafes, retail stores, and other establishments that focus on costomer service. In the states, most of these establishments that i`ve been in have signs that read "no soliciting." If two little girls come inside to try to sell girl scout cookies, they are ushered out by the employees. When I was younger this confused me, but I have become accostomed to it, and I expect it. Now, it means that I may have an undisturbed mealtime. I agree with the policy. If people are bothered by solicitation within a business, they are more likely to try a competitor where they may not be bothered the next time.

Here, in Buenos Aires, there appears to be no such standard. As I sit within a cafe, sipping my agua sin gas and eating a sandwhich, I often am approached by people begging for money. I have not yet seen a single employee utter a word to the beggers. The impoverished come and beg, then leave. The employees go about their work. I have not seen any of the other costomers seem upset by this. They don´t seem to notice the poor that come by. It has, however, been enough of an annoyance that i´ve considered not returning to my favorite cafe. The fact that this same cafe is the closest one with wireless internet has been the prevailing factor though.


1,237 km (769 miles) traveled
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