Election season has officially started and there are already a few political actors turning up the heat in the run up to the mid term elections. With leaders of the Cambiemos coalition having already decided to handle internal competition behind closed doors in order to present a united ticket in October’s elections, attention is now shifting to the Peronist camp, where things are looking pretty different at the moment.
Former Transportation and Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo began the process needing for running in the Peronist party’s elections today despite the request from his former boss, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, to avoid this election and present — the same as Cambiemos and the new coalition led by Sergio Massa called Una Argentina (one Argentina) — a united ticket to voters.
In order to compete in a party’s primary elections, a prospective candidate has to present the Electoral Chamber with the endorsement of no less than two percent of the voters of the territory where he or she intends to run, or two percent of the number of affiliates of the party which they intend to represent. In this case, Randazzo had to present at least 100,000 endorsements from affiliates to the Justicialist Party (PJ) in the Province of Buenos Aires.
The former president has gone on record saying that she is willing to be a candidate for senator in the Province of Buenos Aires if the rest of the party rallies behind her. She argued that a public primary for this spot would harm the party and its chances of doing the best possible election in October.
To back up her claim, she cited the fierce internal battle between Aníbal Fernández and Julián Domínguez to become the party’s candidate in the Buenos Aires Province’s gubernatorial elections from 2015, and assured voters that this played an important role in María Eugenia Vidal’s final victory in the general election.
Moreover, she said she has no intention of going face to face against her minister: “would we have to speak ill of the person who used to be my minister for eight years?” she said. However, she also seized the moment to take a little jab at him as well. “He said Néstor’s [Kirchner] was the best administration, but he was my minister, not his. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t.”
Randazzo and his followers disagree, claiming that the primaries are the best way of defining who will lead the ticket and that the former president will take complete control without some push back.
Randazzo already has a reputation of not following the former president’s guidelines. In fact, both finished their respective terms in office at odds with one another, after Fernández basically prevented him from competing in a primary against Daniel Scioli in 2015’s presidential elections. She offered to guarantee him funds to run for governor in the Buenos Aires Province, but Randazzo refused. It was the presidency or nothing.
He stayed until the end of his term, and flashing to the present clearly maintains his intent of not answering to the former president. He is coming back, for now, with the goal of spearheading the revamping of the Peronist party, something that Kirchner and her supporters are not appearing to want to have happen. The date set for the primaries is August 13. A lot could, and most likely will, happen from now until then. But what is clear is that things are just heating up in the Peronist political kitchen.