According to the National Electoral Chamber (CNE), campaigning for October’s mid term elections will officially begin on July 14, almost a month before the parties choose their candidate — if they decide to — for the primaries.
However, at least unofficially, the political leaders who will be the main players in the election chose the anniversary of Argentina’s May Revolution as the date to toughen up their rhetoric and start getting their message out there. In one way or another, all of them made public appearances and began lifting their public profile, even though the elections are five months away. You’d be fair to ask yourself if campaigning ever really stops in this country, though.
Victory Front and Justicialist Party
Both parties are currently engulfed in a cloud of uncertainty, unable to decide who is going to be its flag-bearer for the next elections. The most important representative of each part coincide on the fact that they need to transmit an image of unity if they want to have any chance of twinning, but don’t agree about who should be the men or women for the job.
One faction vocally supports the electing former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Another part argues that this would benefit the current administration — as it would allow the Macri camp to polarize and divide the party’s voter base, a strategy that proved to be effective in the 2015 presidential elections. This opposing group asserts that former Interior and Transportation Minister, Florencio Randazzo is a better choice than CFK.
Meanwhile, Kirchner herself continues dodge questions on what she plans on doing. However, in an extensive interview she gave to C5N news channel yesterday, she hinted she is leaning towards throwing her hat in the ring.
“If it’s necessary for me to be a candidate to help this proposal by getting more votes and help win the election, then I’ll be a candidate,” she said. “If there’s another candidate who can guarantee a victory and put limits to this government, I welcome it. I want to contribute to that,” she added.
However, it would be tough for her and her supporters to fully determine who of the candidates has the best chances if she continues with her current narrative: she keeps rejecting the requests from the sector close to Randazzo to compete in a primary: “if he’s a candidate, what would we have to do? Speak ill of who was my minister for eight years? He said the Néstor [Kirchner’s] was the best government, but he was a minister during my administrations, not during Néstor’s. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t.”
People close to Randazzo told Clarín that “we are not against unity and we are not disruptive, but that unity is built with the legitimacy provided by the people’s will, not behind closed doors. That’s what the primaries were created for, and that’s what we vindicate.”
The party will have until June 24 to make up its mind and decide whether it will hold primaries. Both leaders will use this month to chase their goals, which are exactly opposite.
Un País (One Country)
If you have never heard that name in Argentine politics before, it’s because it didn’t exist until yesterday, when National Deputies Sergio Massa and Margarita Stolbizer announced that their now officially sealed alliance — which also counts with the presence of Libres del Sur and some factions of the Socialist and Radical parties — will bear that name. In an event held at the DirecTV arena in the Tortuguitas district, the main speakers highlighted the need to “debunk the myth that there’s a political divide in Argentina,” and criticized both the government and the Victory Front equally.
“We will stop Cristina again, if she comes back, like we did four years ago,” Massa said. She was making reference to the previous congressional elections, where he pulled an upset and defeated the then Kirchner administration, which two years before had won the presidential elections with 54 percent of the votes. “Stop pressuring workers and pensioners with the income tax while eliminating taxes to the mining sector,” he said when criticizing the government.
It’s quite likely the coalition won’t hold primary elections and will use its main figures — Massa and Stolbizer — to try to present itself as a healthy middle between the government and the FpV, and take votes from both parties.
Cambiemos’ case is different, as the party’s leaders decided they will bebe the campaign’s most visible faces, rather than the less known officials who will run for office. Not having to announce anything yesterday, the government’s strategy was about clashing with the opposition’s candidates.
The high ranking official chosen to do so yesterday was Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña, who in an interview analyzed — and criticized — Fernández and Massa’s appearances. Regarding the former, he said that “the reason why we are in office and she’s not is because most Argentines got tired and revealed against accumulated failure, lies and hypocrisy.”
As for Massa, he said “he supported us until the moment when he thought that it would be problematic for him. That’s why we have said that he’s the least reliable person in Argentine politics and I think the country knows it: he says what people want to hear to get to power.”
Cambiemos won’t hold primaries either, and feels strongly about it. So much so that it has confronted with the former Ambassador to the U.S, Martín Lousteau, for requesting they be held so he could compete. After numerous failed attempts, Lousteau announced yesterday he will run against the ruling party in the general elections, “even though that decision was made for him.”
Five months away from the elections and we can only expect temperatures to climb across the entire political landscape.