oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - La refundación de la democracia argentina. La retórica constitutiva del discurso inaugural del Presidente Raúl Alfonsín
Any construction of democracy involves the play of multilayered dimensions, political, economic, social, and cultural. Executive oratory in the presidential political regimes also has had a decisive role in shaping the imaginary of these kinds of democracies. This papers considers, from the standpoint of Constitutive Rhetoric (Charland, 1987), the Inaugural Address of Argentine President Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín, December 10, 1983, delivered before the National Assembly in the National Congress. With the help of rhetoric and discourse analysis, I have offered an interpretation of how this historical speech ‘constitutes’ a democratic constituency after seven years of military rule and dictatorship (1976-1983). The hypothesis is that this piece of speech sought to offer a viable performance of the Argentine people as a democratic subject. This operation involves different rhetorical devices. We consider here one of them in particular: the foundational topic (Charaudeau, 2009). It belongs in the series of governmental strategies which seek to draw a clear-cut political frontier between a recent (but repudiated) past and an affluent society of the future, the obverse of that unfair social order left behind. The opposition between a democratic people and the authoritarian elites is the key rhetorical device here. Some effects of the ‘constitutive procedure’ are still working in Argentine politics, where 'democracy' has become a fetish, the common political horizon of our time.
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