Photo via Clarín

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner held yesterday what will be the largest rally of her campaign at the Racing Club Stadium, in the district of Avellaneda. Joined by some of her fellow candidates in the City and Province of Buenos Aires, she pronounced a speech that perfectly illustrated her strategy since the end of August’s primary elections:

  • Her message was combative and fiercely criticized the Macri administration’s policies.
  • She sought to eliminate the difference between Peronism and Kirchnerism, again denying that the latter is a political movement and identifying herself as a Peronist. In fact, the passage of her speech that garnered most attention from the media was the one in which she assured that, should Juan and Eva Perón be alive, they would vote for her party, Unidad Ciudadana.
  • And casually (or not) the rally has held the day before the so-called loyalty day – when a massive labor demonstration held at Plaza de Mayo on October 17, 1945 demanded the liberation of Juan Perón, who was jailed in Martín García island – considered to be the foundation date of Peronism. Oh, and guess what’s the name of the stadium in which the rally was held. You’re correct! It’s Juan Domingo Perón. You have won a wheelbarrow.

The former President began by making reference to the date, saying that “we are here to honor the people’s loyalty to a man, to Perón, who from a humble Labor and Prevision Secretariat changed Argentines’ lives.”

Fernández was joined on stage by her running mate, Jorge Taiana, and the first candidate for deputy in the Province, Fernanda Vallejos, both of whom addressed the crowd before the former President. First candidate in Buenos Aires City, Daniel Filmus, mayors of the districts of La Matanza and Avellaneda, Veronica Magario and Jorge Ferraresi, and 2015 presidential candidate Daniel Scioli were also present, but didn’t speak.

Fernández continued with this argumentative line, making it clear that her short- term goal is to get for the fragmented Peronist movement to rally behind her: “we need to build a political force, an alternative to give Argentines an idea, hope and the dream that we’ll be able to change what’s going on [i.e Macri being President]. That’s why [the rest of the opposition has to rally behind me] on the 22nd [of October] and after the 22nd too,” she argued.

“Should Perón and Evita be alive, who would they vote for? she asked, and proceeded to answer her question. “Evita would vote for Cristina, Perón for Taiana, and together, for Unidad Ciudadana,” she claimed.

However, this will prove to be a difficult task, if not impossible. The leaders of the other political parties identified with Peronism have already made it clear that they have no intention of being allied with her after the elections. And according to press reports, they are actually considering forming a large coalition to become the main opposition force to the government, leaving the former President and her supporters aside.

Photo via Telam
Photo via Telam

Fernández’s electoral perspectives are not helping her intentions either. All indicators point at her losing the elections in the Buenos Aires Province against the government’s – rather weak – candidate, Esteban Bullrich. Her opponents within the opposition – mainly Sergio Massa, Diego Bossio, Miguel Ángel Pichetto and Juan Manuel Urtubey – would take this as as proof that she doesn’t have enough support to run for President in 2019, and use the argument to retire her from the mainstream political landscape and consequently start rebuilding the movement.

The former President continued covering all her talking points throughout the speech: she criticized the Macri administration’s social and economic policies – “if you love your country and see what they are doing with the Malvinas, the sovereign debt, so many things, don’t vote for the austerity measures [the government represents]” – and again held it responsible for the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado.

At the end, and on the edge of losing her voice, she finished by saying that “Argentina is not theirs, but belongs to the people.” “I’m losing my voice, but getting all your hearts,” concluded Fernández, who proceeded to dance on stage. An objective analysis of her moves aside, at least it was less cringe-worthy than the time she danced Zumba a couple weeks ago.

The former President will officially close her campaign on Thursday with a rally in the district of La Matanza, the province’s most populated district and arguably her main stronghold.