11/01/2013 | Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s presidential communication has been eclectic and not always effective. But the string of 22 tweets in roughly half an hour last Saturday and a Facebook letter addressed to an Oscar-laureate actor to defend her sworn statement of assets a day later could be seen as hint that the head of state might be willing to dust off a style that had been mostly on automatic pilot since she cruised to her re-election in October 2011.
The President is a great public speaker — which does not necessarily mean she is a great communicator as well. Raised as a public figure in parliament, she is more used to addressing the caucuses and making arguments for the sake of the stenographic archives of Congress than persuading masses.
Since first running and winning office in 2007, the President has been trying to set a tone of discourse to her presidency. Her role as a suffering but strong widow gave her unprecedented political gains in the form of a bond of empathy with the Argentine public. But once the campaign frenzy was over, her government communication required less passion and more reason and so the President went back — during 2012 — to a business-as-usual argumentative and authoritative approach. Her Twitter/Facebook weekend outbursts — more on this below — were no first-timers. @CFKargentina — who ranks seventh among world leaders in number of Twitter followers — opened in mid-2010, when her presidency was slowly beginning to stage a political comeback in the aftermath of a congressional defeat against the country’s heavyweight farming sector in 2008 and an electoral blow in the 2009 midterm elections. In early October 2010, the President caused a mini diplomatic stir by calling the British “pirates” (in English) in a tweet over the Malvinas conflict. She later recalled that during those days immediately prior to the death of Néstor Kirchner on October 27, 2010, her husband would groan about how much time she was spending on Twitter. After his death, the presidential Twitter account became largely institutional and lost most visible trace of her personal touch.
The lost year of presidential communication 2012 was directly proportional to the government’s careless use of the cadena nacional mandatory television and radio broadcast. Some things don’t change and there was some of that this week as well, as the President spoke on cadena on Thursday —strangely enough not on Wednesday for the more TV appealing show of the fireworks-filled return of the Libertad frigate after its retention in Ghana — to announce the purchase of rail cars from China. One of the starting-points of the President’s divorce this year with the urban middle class was a cadena speech lasting for over an hour on evening primetime on September 3, which sparked some timid pot-banging that would later grow — for reasons larger than just political communication — to become big anti-government demonstrations on September 13 and November 8.
The presidential communication does not make good use of the cadena nacional, which is a tool designed for the leader to speak to the public and the CFK administration uses it to televise presidential ceremonies instead. The difference might seem subtle but it is not: the public is left outside, watching through television screen how the President talks to and jokes with a palace crowd.
The President’s weekend social media string recaptures some of the freshness of her pre-widow life. In her tweets, the President jokes about the steps for a “recipe for a booby-trap news item” in the press critical of her administration. The President tweeted: 1) Take any new, old or made-up event; 2) Worry not about time or place, whether it happened yesterday, last week or last year; 3) Key ingredient: Who. Must be a member of the national government or any person who supports the administration; 4) When? a. During electoral campaigns; b. Timed to hide events that favour the corporations, c. Every day, in order to erode the government; 5) Include opposition politicians that act as “parrots” and repeat your argument.
It was however the core of her message — her criticism of the courts’ role in the legal bouts the government is fighting against the country’s largest media conglomerate Grupo Clarin and the Argentine Rural Society — rather than her tone or the choice of the channel hit the front pages the next morning. For what it’s worth — especially during the low political season of summer holidays — the President got a taste of setting the public agenda again thanks to her tweets and her Facebook letter to Oscar-winning actor Ricardo Darín, who has timidly asked in a magazine interview how come the President had increased her fortune so much during her time in office. If tweeting gets you to the front pages and the televised speeches get you pot-bangers in Plaza de Mayo, then Twitter is a rational political choice. The next morning, one newspaper columnist complained that the President’s choice of social media to make her public points was (yet) another indication that she wished there were no journalists around ever. It is. Welcome to the 21st century.
You made great points reridgang this subject. With American made businesses and local "mom and pop" shops closing, income for our country needs to come in somehow, somewhere. Tourism is one of the best forms of income for any country, state, city. Also, it''s heartbreaking that Poles cannot have their own family at events such as weddings, christenings, funerals, etc. Currently, my Wujek (Uncle), cousins, grandparents, etc. cannot come over to see me. For my wedding, I had only my parents
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