Amongst the several cases reported in this volume of an elite rocked by a crisis, looking to poor groups for support and thereby shifting policy in a pro-poor direction, Argentina is one of the most dramatic. The crisis arose from the collapse of an exchange rate peg under the stress of fiscal and institutional weaknesses which the IMF had indulged rather than being able to correct. In the consequent economic crisis many middle-class as well as working class people lost their jobs and their livelihoods, and thereby became radicalized, operating as piqueteros, or radical protesters, demanding that government policy alter its stance and in particular reject the neoliberal ‘Washington consensus’. Under the Duhalde and the two Kirchner administrations after 2002, this move away from a neoliberal and towards an activist state gradually occurred, involving both the cooptation of the piqueteros into government and the adoption of a heterodox policy framework, known in Argentina as neodesarrollismo (neodevelopmentalism)., a mixture of 1950s-style import-substituting industrialization with new-style fiscal austerity and innovative new policy instruments, such as export taxes linked to social protection expenditures. The Mesa de Dialogo, a new discussion forum established to conciliate the differences of interest groups affected by the crisis, was also important in facilitating the transition to the new policy regime.These new instruments have helped to give teeth to the left-of-centre strategies which have gained ground inside and outside Latin America in recent years.
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