Friday marked the first official day of the midterm elections, and the political parties looking for seats in Congress in October started their engines with rallies, meetings with constituents and addressing the press. Here’s a look at what each party — well, at least the ones with the best chance of getting a sizable number of votes in the Buenos Aires Province — have been up to since Friday.
The party that currently occupies the Casa Rosada began its road to election day ringing doorbells on Saturday instead of Friday because, according to the Province’s campaign director, Federico Salvai, “[Friday] is a working day and we have to govern” the territory.
In case you’re not familiar with the term “door-belling” it the traditional canvassing candidates or public officials do here by ringing the doorbell of random citizens — or at least they say it’s random — to listen to the needs and concerns of those who choose to open their doors to them. Cambiemos officials and activists do it regularly, but this round was particularly focused on the campaign.
The party’s main candidates for senators and deputies scattered themselves throughout the province’s vast territory and headed respective door-belling campaigns in places they have roots in.
President Mauricio Macri and Governor María Eugenia Vidal also took the streets of the governor’s native district of Morón, in an attempt to start locking down some votes themselves and the party. Other high ranking members of the Executive Branch like Transportation and Social Development ministers Guillermo Dietrich and Carolina Stanley also joined candidates in their run through their respective districts.
Everyone had the same message: elections are an opportunity to consolidate the change they brought and leave Kirchnerism in the past. Senatorial candidates Esteban Bullrich and Gladys González went to the districts of Junín and Bolívar, respectively. The main candidates to the Lower House Graciela Ocaña, Héctor “Toty” Flores and Guillermo Montenegro went to San Justo, Laferrere and Mar del Plata, all in the province.
Citizens’ United Front
Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner held a rally in the coastal city of Mar del Plata on Friday. In contrast with the events she held while in office, the former president opted for a relatively small theater this time around with a 1,400 person capacity, its seats mainly filled by other candidates and high ranking members of the electoral front. The 5,000 activists present in the city had to settle for a giant screen in the San Martín plaza.
The former president spoke for 10 minutes, one of the shortest speeches of hers on record. She said her newly-formed electoral front represents “a citizenship that can’t continue suffering” the effects of the government’s policies.
Speaking to the other candidates that were behind her on stage, Fernández gave them “the only campaign indication: go out to the streets and listen what’s happening to the people. To help them, join them, tell them there’s hope.”
Same as with the rally she launched the front with, the former president then went on to hand the stage over to citizens who claim to have been affected by the policies of the current administration. “There’s no better democratic defense than the citizens’ vote, the vote that will help stop this, so much pain and suffering,” she said after listening to their stories.
National Deputies Sergio Massa and Margarita Stolbizer officially kicked off their alliance’s electoral campaign with a rally in the district of Tigre — Massa’s stronghold — with a continuation of the message they have been sending to the people: that they are the alternative to this administration that governs for the elites and the brand of populism the Kirchner administrations represent.
Massa told his supporters to not believe “the myth of the political divide [known as Grieta], that forces people to choose between a government of thieves and another that governs in the interest of the elites.” He went on to send strong, direct messages to each one of those camps. About Cambiemos, he said: “President, change. People can’t make ends meet. Argentina can’t grow if we punish hard work and award financial speculation.”
He took a swing at the Kirchner camp too saying: “we can look our kids in the eye with Malena [his wife] because what we have, we earned. We didn’t steal anything from anyone, unlike others.”
Florencio Randazzo (Justicialist Party)
The Interior and Transportation Minister during the two Fernández de Kirchner administrations did his thing in the city of Bolívar, in the provincial interior. There, he differentiated himself from the three aforementioned heavyweights and criticized each one of them for something different: Fernández for claiming to speak on the behalf of the entire Peronist party; Macri for his administration’s policies; and Massa for being “opportunistic and arrogant.”
In an earlier interview with Perfil, Randazzo said that “we are rebels, we don’t want more bosses, we don’t want arrogance and are against this insensitive government.” “We do it from a place of humbleness, we know that we have an uphill battle,” he highlighted.