My Argentine Election Day

IMGP8012 Even Buenos Aires tango was affected by Argentina’s national election. Last night I was at Club Sunderland with friends, and it closed two hours early, at 3am. People left rapidly. Voting is not optional here and so everyone had something important to do today. After a bit of a lie in, we made it to the polls by 3pm, with three hours to spare.

Outside the voting station, which was a school, there was a lone policeman and lots of Argentine voters. On the walls of the porch were coloured lists of names: women’s printed on pink paper, men’s on blue. Carlos found his name and so knew which table to queue for inside. The queues stretched down the stairs. It was obvious that I wasn’t voting because I was the only woman in one of the male queues. Carlos kept his arm protectively around me at all times as people politely pushed past searching for the end of their line. Occasionally a green-uniformed soldier carrying a long rifle came past us, a filled cardboard box full of voting papers under his arm. I was desperate to take out my tiny camera and sneak some photos, but I resisted. There really are some times when it simply is not appropriate.

It took us about half an hour to climb the stairs and reach table number 4548. Carlos handed over his identification document. It is stamped every time he votes in an election. He was given an empty envelope, and disappeared into a room (also numbered 4548) to select his vote: only one person at a time is allowed into this room. While the door was open I noticed what looked like lots of piles of newspaper pages on the table. In fact these are the votes. Each paper has on it details (to me it looked like marketing material) about one candidate and the voter chooses which to place in the empty envelope. This is then posted through the slot of the voting box on the table outside – in our case table number, and box number 4548. Carlos was in and out in seconds. Other voters took far longer and Carlos complained to me that many people don’t make up their minds about who to vote for until they get inside the room. Having glimpsed the voting papers, which really were covered with headlines and text, I am guessing it is possible to stand in there and read about every candidate before making your final choice. I see his point.

When we emerged into the warm afternoon sun, we decided to do something completely different and visit the zoo. Now I am not much one for zoos. I always feel quite uncomfortable with the ‘animals in cages’ scenario. But it was a beautiful day for a walk in a green and tranquil space and I have to say we did see some very happy families of animals. I don’t think I have ever been to a zoo where so many of the animals were apparently enjoying life with their partners and children. I also rather liked watching the Argentines out with their little ones: one proud father asked Carlos to take a photograph of him and his family. To stand behind the camera and see their excited faces beaming back at us was a delight. It was an afternoon when I truly appreciated the joy that can be the result of happy families: both animal and human.

We caught the bus home. I have just eaten the second half of the delicious English shepherd’s pie I cooked yesterday, and we have watched the sun set on Election Day. Now we are about to settle down to watch an animated film about a group of animals who decide to escape from a New York zoo and head to an island in Madagascar. Carlos chose it for me from the video rental place just a block away. A beautifully domesticated end to a perfect day.

And I am left thinking, ‘Can this be me? Trips to the zoo, home-cooked dinners, watching cartoons?’

Mmmmmm, maybe all that ‘happy families’ stuff is rubbing off on me…

See pictures of my Argentine Election Day

Update:

And here’s the winning campaign poster…

IMGP8046

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8 Responses

  1. Did you see the baby baboons (for a lack of proper name)? We were there about 3 weeks ago! They were soooooo cute!

  2. Yes we did. Along with the baby chimpanzee, the baby giraffe, the baby underwater tortoise. And I longed to hug them all… SC

  3. oh! I didn´t see the baby chimps 😦 but did see the baby albino tigers, although they are not so babyish anymore, now that they are several months old.

  4. I remember I really liked the baby white tigers that were there in February… 🙂

  5. Wow Miss Tango and Tina, how did I miss the baby tigers that you both mention?
    Gutted! SC

  6. Maybe they were in their caves when you were there 😦

  7. Never mind the tigers, what happened in the election?

    Jo

  8. Well Jo, I might have been pleasantly surprised by my reaction to my trip to the zoo, but there were no surprises in the election. We got what we expected:

    “Power will change hands…but it will remain in the family,” Argentina’s La Nación noted yesterday in response to Sunday’s big election results. “Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will succeed her husband [current President Nestor Kirchner] on December 10.” The current Argentine First Lady, an experienced pol in her own right – she is a senator in Argentina’s national legislature representing the southern province of Santa Cruz – won 45 percent of the vote nationwide. Kirchner was the candidate of the Peronist movement. Her competitors for the presidency, center-left congresswoman Elisa Carrio, won 23 percent of the vote, while former finance minister Roberto Lavagna, won 17 percent. (International Herald Tribune; also, La Jornada, Mexico)

    Whether the country will get what it needs remains to be seen. SC

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