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Argentina fan celebrates after the World Cup match against Mexico.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

World Cup heats up Argentina’s presidential race

When Argentina faces Poland in their do-or-die last group stage match on Wednesday, one thing will be missing at the stadium in Qatar: Argentine politicians.

In the soccer-crazy South American nation, políticos rarely watch the Albiceleste, in person to avoid getting blamed for a loss. Former President Mauricio Macri didn’t get the memo, as he attended — in his new FIFA gig — Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia last week. Almost on cue, fans responded by launching an online petition for Macri and his bad juju to stay as far away as possible from GOAT Leo Messi and his crew.

But the brouhaha over Macri is part of a bigger story: The former president has hinted he might want to get his old job back in next year’s election.

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Annie Gugliotta

World leaders: Thanks for nothing!

This Thursday, many of our readers — particularly in the US — will celebrate Thanksgiving.

At worst, it’s a day to argue with your relatives about super-chill topics like climate change, racism, abortion, or cancel culture (here’s a useful guide for that.)

But at best, it’s an opportunity to take a moment, look around, and recognize the things you’re grateful for in this life.

And it’s not just you — our world leaders have much to be thankful for as well. Here, then, is a partial list of global gratitude:

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Sergio Massa attends an event after the 2021 midterm elections in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

What We’re Watching: Argentina’s super minister, China-Zambia debt deal, Ukrainian grain trader dead

Can a "super minister" save Argentina?

Argentina's embattled President Alberto Fernández has appointed Sergio Massa, the influential leader of the lower house of parliament, to head a new "super ministry" that Fernández hopes will help steer the country out of a deep economic crisis. Massa, Argentina's third economic minister in less than a month, will oversee economic, manufacturing, and agricultural policy. He has his work cut out for him owing to soaring inflation, farmers demanding tax relief, and a recent run on the peso. Massa also needs to convince the IMF that Argentina will comply with the terms of its $44 billion debt restructuring deal. There's a political angle too: he's (arguably) the strongest candidate the left-wing Peronista coalition has to run for president next year if the unpopular Fernández drops his bid for a second term. Massa is one of very few politicians who can navigate the ongoing rift between the president and his powerful VP, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. If the new "super minister" does a good job, he'll be in pole position for a 2023 presidential run; if he fails, the ruling Peronistas will face long odds to stay in power.

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Argentina's VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner waves at supporters next to President Alberto Fernández at the closing campaign rally before the 2021 midterm elections in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS, Paige Fusco

War of the Fernandezes in Argentina

Argentina's leftwing government is led by two people named Fernández: President Alberto Fernández and his vice president, the almost equally powerful former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The two have always been odd bedfellows, and often clash over policy. But lately their disagreements have reached fever pitch, fueling rumors of a split that could hurt the president's reelection odds next year amid a worsening economic crisis: sky-high inflation, a plummeting peso, capital controls, and Argentina's usual piling debt.

Why don't the president and the VP get along, and what does that mean for Argentina's political future? We get some clarity from Eurasia Group's Daniel Kerner and Luciano Sigalov.

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Activists demonstrate with a cardboard depicting late President Juan Domingo Peron and Maria Eva Duarte Peron, as Argentines demonstrate in support of Fernandez's administration as they celebrate the Loyalty Day, which commemorates the massive mobilization by supporters of Peron to demand his release after he was imprisoned, in 1945, in Buenos Aires, Argentina October 17, 2021.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

The end of Peronismo in Argentina?

Argentina is famous for tango, literary greats like Jorge Luis Borges, and for producing (arguably) the world's two best soccer players of all time in Diego Maradona and Leo Messi. It's the third-largest economy in Latin America, and a global agricultural powerhouse.

Unfortunately, the country is also known for chronic political instability and has long been tagged an economic basket case — the direct result of successive populist governments spending beyond their means, and getting others to foot the bill for their mismanagement.

Messy politics and economic emergencies are all too common in Argentina. But after Sunday's midterm elections, Argentines can expect an especially rocky next two years.

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A man reacts during a rally to support the National Defense Force and to condemn the expansion of the Tigray People Liberation Front fighters into Amhara and Afar regional territories at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 8, 2021.

REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

What We're Watching: Everyone vs Ethiopian PM, Brazil ditches Huawei, (more) trouble in Sudan, Argentina's midterms, Iraqi powder keg

Opposition forces unite in Ethiopia's civil war. The Tigray People's Liberation Front, which has been locked in a brutal year-long civil war against Ethiopian government forces, has now teamed up with another powerful militant outfit that wants to oust Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The TPLF, now in alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army — which claims to represent Ethiopia's largest ethnic group — have swept towards the capital Addis Ababa in recent days, prompting the embattled Abiy to call on civilians to take up arms in defense of the city. The Tigray-Oromo alliance, called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist Forces, has called for Abiy's immediate ouster, either by negotiation or by force, and for the prosecution of government officials for war crimes. The UN says all sides in the conflict have committed abuses. The US, which has threatened to suspend Ethiopia's trade preferences over the government's alleged war crimes, is currently trying to broker a cease-fire. When Abiy came to power after popular protests in 2018, he was hailed for liberalizing what was formerly an extremely repressive government (controlled, as it happens, by the TPLF). Now it's looking like he may have unleashed the very forces that could tear the country apart and drive him from office — or worse.

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Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez attends a ceremony to announce new agro-economic measures inside the museum of Casa Rosada presidential palace, in Buenos Aires, Argentina September 30, 2021.

Mati­as Baglietto/NurPhot

What We're Watching: Argentina's midterm elections

Argentina votes, ruling party in deep trouble. Argentines go to the polls this coming Sunday to vote in the country's midterm legislative elections, with the ruling leftwing coalition of President Alberto Fernández bracing for heavy losses in both houses of parliament. The result will likely reflect the outcome of last September's primary elections, where the president's allies got clobbered by the center-right opposition. Since then, Fernández has caved to pressure from his powerful VP, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (no relation), to double down on social spending and government intervention in the economy to curb skyrocketing inflation. But it hasn't worked: Fernández has capped prices on a whopping 1,432 products, yet annual inflation remains over 50 percent. Without a senate majority, it'll be very hard for the president to get much done in the second half of his term at the worst possible time: economists fear Argentina may stiff the IMF on part of the $45 billion it owes early next year. Another default could lead to a run on banks like in 2001, when the country suffered one of its worst financial crises ever. With presidential elections not on the horizon for another two years, buckle up for a lot of political instability until then.

What We're Watching: California's governor faces the heat, worrying signs for Argentina's president, a Malaysian deal

The world's fifth largest economy votes: Voters in the US state of California will vote Tuesday on whether to fire the state's Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, and replace him with someone else. Some 46 candidates have put their names on the ballot to take the governor's mansion from Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor who has been broadly criticized for his pandemic policies — in particular his decision to keep many public schools closed last year, as well as dining out at an exclusive restaurant while telling Californians to stay home. But while the recall effort initially had steam, low projected turnout and an uninspiring group of replacement options — including right wing shock-jock Larry Elder and Caitlyn Jenner of Kardashian fame — mean that Newsom will likely survive. The vote has national implications: there is increasing pressure on the state's 88-year old Senator Diane Feinstein to retire before her term is up in 2024, and it would be up to the governor to appoint her replacement. With the Senate currently divided 50-50, a Republican governor could flip control back to the GOP. But that's a long-shot: Republicans only make up 24 percent of the electorate, compared to 35 percent in 2003, the last time the state recalled its Democratic governor. Who took over after that? The Terminator.

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