Javier Milei's government does not perceive the fall of the Omnibus Law as a political defeat, which was his administration's attempt to reach an agreement with a large part of the opposition and make reforms. On the contrary, the official view is that it was a resounding victory to reconfigure the scenario and that this is very difficult to understand due to politics.
From the President's circle they explain it with a metaphor: “It is a racket sport in which two players (singles) or two couples (doubles) face each other located in opposite halves of a rectangular court divided by a net.” Surely, whoever reads that basic definition will think that it refers to tennis. Well yes: tennis is a racket sport in which two players or two pairs located on opposite halves of a rectangular court divided by a net compete against each other. But not. “We are talking about badminton here.”
Unlike tennis and other racquet sports, badminton is not played with a ball, but with a shuttlecock that players must hit with their rackets “so that it crosses the court over the net and falls into the sector.” opponent.” The shuttlecock, unlike the tennis ball, should not touch the ground. When that happens, the point ends.
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Although it attracts attention, this description – which surely sounds strange at the beginning of a political opinion column – explains very clearly what is happening in the arena of power in Argentina at the beginning of the year and, above all, how the government read the development of events that ended with the Omnibus Law paralyzed and DNU semi-suspended.
“These people don't see it. They think that because there is a rectangular court, rackets and net that we are playing tennis. And not. We are playing another sport, badminton, for example. The political class does not understand that Milei plays another sport. Then they measure it with other parameters.” This is how a high-ranking source from the national government expresses itself when analyzing the (supposedly) failed outcome of the treatment of the Omnibus Law in the Chamber of Deputies.
“The political class analyzes events with the wrong tools. They evaluate Milei as if he were a normal politician. And he is not. Then they screw it up. They should analyze it with other parameters,” she adds.
The president has another strategy. (Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Milei himself said it in a post on the social network (…) And we are not going to be accomplices in the game of the same parasites as always who live at the expense of the Argentines. (…) We did not come to continue with the usual political game. “We came to break it.”
For the government, the cancellation of the treatment of the Bases Law is a success. It's that simple. What's more, they are so convinced that everything is going as planned that they announce with great fanfare that long before “Plan A” (the Law) failed, they began to implement “Plan B.”
What is this “Plan B” about? It is the adjustment via the Executive Branch through unilateral decisions that do not require parliamentary approval.
“Except for the labor reform chapter that is suspended – for now – by the justice system, the DNU is almost all in force. There is a lot that is already being done there. Add to that the State cuts that we have been making since day one. Add to that the fact that we cut off the physical monetary issue. All of this led us to have a zero deficit in January. I repeat: Plan B has been underway for some time. Does that seem like a defeat to you? The government is stronger than ever. “We are not going to let ourselves be intimidated by the political class that wants nothing to change,” the same official says.
The fall of the Omnibus Law was “a success” for the Government. (Photo: NA)
It's clear. The government plays its own sport. A different sport, different from the one the rest of the political class plays. However, it is not a new sport. What science calls “direct democracy” is a centuries-old political worldview, highly developed in some basic concepts contributed by the emblematic North American president Thomas Jefferson: for him, the vindication of the rights of citizens is what legitimizes the leader in the world. power, without the need for intermediaries. Milei displays this idea, and exploits it – above all – in communication matters, making strong use of his social networks. “People voted for the president and already knew what Javier Milei was like,” said political minister Guillermo Francos as a way of ratifying this idea.
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The question is: what are the rules of “political badminton”?
The first thing to keep in mind is that here “the end justifies the means.” “If we manage to lower inflation and people regain purchasing power, no one will care if we did it by law or by decree, no one will ask if we fought with the governors,” says an important government man. And he adds: “as the president says, as the Minister of Economy says, the objective is not touched. We are going to zero deficit. “That is not negotiated.”
Secondly, as we have been arguing for weeks, months: direct democracy. The rules of the Milei sport imply dispensing with intermediaries. “It's him, the people and in the middle, his social networks. He has done quite well with that,” says a highly influential person in the government.
Milei is convinced that the best way to obtain enough reputation to ask the population for an effort is to be and appear to be a normal person, an ordinary man. (Photo: Twitter @JMilei)
Thirdly: the player must look like the fans. Milei is convinced that the best way to obtain enough reputation to be able to ask the population for an effort is to be and appear to be a normal person, an ordinary man. The president in the leather jacket, cargo pants and T-shirt, disheveled and simple-tongued… All of this is an example among many in terms of putting this rule into operation.
Fourthly: the climate of war. This week that ends formed a clear timeline full of war appeals and so on. Social networks as a fighting arena. Creative tools like Nik's drawing linking Milei to the Terminator. The president's spicy sayings about governors. The public exposure of the names of those legislators who rejected some aspects of the omnibus law.
Fifth rule: always 100% conviction when sustaining the strategy. The government does not give in. There is no room to think if anything that happened could have been better. Nothing of that. For Milei and her small table, what happened is a success. “Not a step back,” a Kirchnerist would say.
Sixth rule: do not spend time or energy thinking about negative alternative scenarios. There is complete conviction that what will happen will be good. “This is going to turn out well, Gonzalo. Do not doubt it. It's just a matter of holding on for a while,” says a person who sits at the Government table.
Seen through the prism of these rules of the game and – following the badminton metaphor used by the government – the match is being favorable to them. The implementation of “Plan B” is working for them. The main objective of the plan is zero deficit. The derived objectives are the reduction of inflation and poverty. The first thing, at least in January, according to what the government says, they achieved it. The second is far from being achieved.
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A final reflection, continuing with the sports metaphor of “badminton versus tennis”. Beyond sports, does the government know that management is not summed up in a single game but rather a long championship? Several issues support this hypothesis. First of all, the basic time horizon: the management lasts 4 years. Secondly, in the middle of the championship, a first final is played: the 2025 midterm elections. Third: politics is made of flesh and blood people, susceptible to the wear and tear that activity itself in such a fluctuating country generates.
We could also say – following the metaphorical line – that it is a marathon and not a 100-meter race. How intelligent is he who knows how to distribute energy.
Some “mileiista” could say that in politics, as in tricks, it is essential to “do first.” We take it.
Surely, in the eyes of the government, Milei came first. And it is true that traditional politics reads it with the tennis regulations, while the president plays badminton. As true as a badminton tournament has several matches. For this, it is necessary for the players to be physically and mentally healthy, without spending all their resources in the first match, no matter how important it may be.