Argentine shift to democracy begins to gel
Argentina's two major political parties want to bury the hatchets by arranging a ticket of national unity for October presidential balloting. After decades of feuding, the two parties had become bitter enemies. Their proposed unity ticket would not end all animosity between them, but it could go far in curbing the vicious political infighting that has been so evident in Argentine politics of late.
Such a ticket would also help to ease the transition from military to civilian rule. It would probably be led by Italo Luder, the longtime Peronista loyalist who is a former president of the Argentine Senate. Fernando de la Rua, a young Cordoba lawyer and Radical Party stalwart, would probably be Luder's running mate.
Both are attractive moderates - as widely respected as any other Argentine politician on the horizon today.
Whether moderate elements within the Peronista and Radical parties will be successful in forming the ticket remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, adroit behind-the-scenes maneuvering by party officials has been under way for two weeks. The officials recognize that time to work out the ticket is short with the election only four months off.
Moreover, there are some Argentine observers who also doubt that the election will be held on schedule.
If the Luder-de la Rua ticket does emerge, however, it may prove an unbeatable combination. Bringing together not only attractive candidates, but also the more moderate elements of the two parties, the ticket may set well with the Argentine military, which will be giving up power in the electoral process.
Moderate elements in both parties are increasingly convinced that politics as usual simply will not work in a post-military Argentina. Not only will the military continue to hover in the wings, threatening to again seize power, but perhaps more importantly, the problems of Argentina are simply too big to have one party responsible for their solutions.
The power-sharing arrangement has somestumbling blocks. It would not satisfy extremist elements in either the Peronista or Radical parties. These elements do not want a sharing of power. They have made that plain.
The Peronista extremists say there is no reason for the arrangement. They are sure the Peronists can win the election without assistance. Why, they ask, share power?
Some Peronistas want to run Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, the former president overthrown by the military in 1976. The widow of the late Juan Domingo Peron, founder of the Personista movement, Mrs. Peron has strong emotional backing within the party even though most Peronistas doubt her ability to lead the party and the nation.
For the Radical extremists, sharing power with their archenemies, the Peronitas, is anathema. They recognize their second-place role in the Argentine political spectrum. But political honor is at stake. Better to go down to defeat than to compromise such honor, they aver. And anyway, they say, a political fluke could take place and they might win.
But for the Argentine military, which has held power for seven years, the projected Peronista-Radical alliance has strong advantages. It would probably prevent the election from becoming an acrimonious political feud. Moreover, it might provide for an orderly transition of power.
Even more important, in military eyes, it could prevent a future government from embarking on a vendetta against the excesses of the military's rule. Many Argentines are demanding an accounting of the military stewardship - and in particular the disappearances of thousands of Argentines, presumably at the hands of paramilitary goon squads, during the late 1970s.
In addition, there are demands by elements within the Argentine populace for an accounting of the military action in the disastrous Falkland Islands war of 1982. Anything to prevent, or at least soften, such acrimonious probing of military actions would be worthwhile, says the military. Many in the Peronista and Radical parties agree. They are not pleased with the military record.