Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (left) and Silvina García Larraburu pictured yesterday. (García Larraburu Press Office)

The balance of power in the Senate has shifted slightly after the announcement that Senator Silvina García Larraburu has joined the Frente para la Victoria caucus that supports Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Buenos Aires), chipping away at the Bloque Justicialista chaired by Senator Miguel Pichetto and ensuring that Cambiemos has the largest bloc.

García Larraburu of Río Negro thus becomes the ninth senator in the FPV-PJ caucus, which is ostensibly chaired by Senator Marcelo Fuentes (Neuquén) but is centered around the leadership of the former president. The senator for Río Negro has always been sympathetic to Fernández de Kirchner but remained politically aligned with Pichetto, also of Río Negro, at the time of the Peronist-Kirchnerite split in the Senate that took place after the most recent elections.

“General Perón used to say that who have a responsibility ‘must take risks; those who are looking for mediocre successes, mustn’t take risks; and if one doesn’t want to make mistakes, the best thing is to never do anything.’ Those words have helped me to make this difficult decisions. It is clear to me that I must first be loyal to my country, then to the popular movement, and then to men. After long and honest reflection, I have decided to join the FPV-PJ caucus to be able to best serve my country and province,” García Larraburu said in a statement issued yesterday after she met with Fernández de Kirchner to formalize her move.

As such, Pichetto’s Bloque Justicialista now has 24 members after the loss, leaving Cambiemos as the single-biggest caucus with 25 members. However, the Mauricio Macri administration remains short of a majority in the 72-seat chamber, and will continue to rely on Pichetto and Peronist governors who have now sought to politically distance themselves from Kirchernism to pass legislation.

The move comes soon after Pichetto and other non-Kirchnerite Peronists met in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos, to build bridges among the various factions ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. Pichetto explicitly rejected any kind of alliance with Fernández de Kirchner and Kirchnerism.

García Larraburu’s term as senator concludes in 2019.