Argentina’s political alliances can be confusing. Internal disputes can be rife in ruling and opposition coalitions, and leaders discuss whether to join forces or not until the last minute before each election. But there are some patterns amid the seemingly chaotic nature of the country’s political spectrum that can make it easier to follow and predict.
One way to look at it is as a symmetric structure with two main coalitions that fight for power, both of which include people more prone to negotiation that lean closer to the center (such as President Alberto Fernández and Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta), as well as others more ideologically firm, like Cristina Kirchner or Mauricio Macri. Right down the middle lie a few smaller groups that can be crucial to tip the balance one way or the other, such as Sergio Massa, Roberto Lavagna or the Peronist Governors, represented in the graph below by Tucumán’s Juan Manzur.
To the left and right of the main ruling and opposition coalitions are even smaller outsiders, which basically act by pushing an agenda beyond the Overton window. It’s frequent to see José Luis Espert or Javier Milei calling for frontal attacks on unions, drastically lower taxes or even closing the Central Bank, attacking the Cambiemos coalition from the right or denouncing it as not really right wing, just as Cynthia Hotton and her evangelical allies do due to what they believe is an insufficient commitment to family values from Macri’s camp. Nicolás Del Caño or Myriam Bregman, meanwhile, can often be seen denouncing Kirchnerism as not really left, and speaking of police repression of workers, austerity policies or “feudal” provincial allies under Peronist administrations.
One key factor that usually differentiates opposition insiders is whether they need to run a province or city while being out from the national administration. A cordial relationship with the federal government is usually crucial for financial aid, coordination of projects and more, so Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, or the UCR’s multiple local authorities across the country, will tend to be more moderate critics of Alberto Fernández, as opposed to Elisa Carrió’s Civic Coalition, Mauricio Macri or Patricia Bullrich, who can all take shots against the government to rally their bases without fearing immediate consequences in their day to day political lives.
A similar thing happened during Macri’s government, when Peronist governors and their congressional representatives were quiet allies of Macri to pass key laws or reach broad political agreements, as were Sergio Massa and his territorial allies in the first two years of his administration.
The current ruling coalition includes the loyal allies to Cristina Kirchner, such as Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof or La Cámpora youth organization, but also groups of progressives, feminists or academics (represented in the graph by Vilma Ibarra), and liberal Peronists such as Foreign Minister Felipe Solá or Alberto Fernández himself. By itself, this would likely not be enough, but the coalition has learned to be pragmatic, with Sergio Massa and the Peronist governors firmly on board, and Roberto Lavagna a frequent ally in Congress. If more votes are needed to pass a certain law, then the UCR caucus will be the first obvious place where they will look.