As we approach one of the most important Argentine presidential elections in decades — one that may reverse the Peronist trend we’ve seen until now — leaders from opposite ends of the spectrum — the grieta, as the massive political divide between Kirchnerites and anti-Kirchnerites is known — are defining their parties’ final strategies and selecting their candidates. The political chessboard is finally getting its pieces sorted out, if you will.
Yesterday, Buenos Aires Province Governor and Victory Front (FpV) presidential hopeful Daniel Scioli made his move. Scioli, perceived as a moderate within the party, took the country by surprise by announcing he had proposed the vice presidential candidacy to Carlos Zannini, the current administration’s legal and technical secretary… as well as a die-hard Kirchnerite.
“If the president agrees, he can join me,” the current governor stated.
Shortly thereafter, the presidential hopeful himself confirmed to Buenos Aires dailys Clarín and La Nacion that Zannini, one of Cristina’s closest advisors, had accepted his offer.
“I talked to him and he told me it was an honor to accompany Néstor Kirchner’s former vice president,” he said.
Basically, Scioli’s platform, previously considered a “light” version of Cristina’s political game, just got way more Kirchnerite.
But who is Zannini?
Despite being at the Kirchner family’s side since their political beginnings in Santa Cruz Province as well as a key player in Argentine politics’ “red circle” (the name given to the highly politically informed), he has always kept a low public profile and neither his face, voice nor position on different matters are well known to most Argentines.
The now-confirmed vice presidential hopeful was appointed legal and technical secretary in 2003 when Néstor assumed the presidency, but his path siding with the country’s most powerful marriage started way before, according to Infobae. He was Rio Gallegos’ municipal government secretary in 1987, province minister during Néstor’s gubernatorial term in the southern province in 1991, lawmaker in 1995 and leader of the party’s deputies thereafter. He was appointed to Santa Cruz’ Superior Court before obtaining his current position.
Until yesterday, the ruling party was undergoing a difficult internal feud between the orthodox Kirchnerites, siding with Interior and Transportation Minister Florencio Randazzo, and a more moderate faction who believed Scioli ought to lead the country for the next four years.
This latest announcement, however, may manage to unite all Kirchnerites under the same flag, as those who criticized the Buenos Aires Governor’s temperance may find in Zannini the ideological zeal they seek.
In fact, Randazzo met with Cristina on Wednesday, and rumors suggest he’ll most likely step down from his candidacy.
This not only sheds brighter light on Cristina’s party’s direction and objectives, but on the opposition’s too. On Wednesday morning, Buenos Aires City Mayor and presidential hopeful Mauricio Macri claimed hard-Kirchnerite line allowed his to position himself as the clear alternative.
“[The appointment] is consistent with everything they’ve been doing. We will be just as consistent regarding the change Argentina needs,” he stated.
As of now, Argentine politics are beginning to see a clear divide. With Massa almost out of the running (despite his best attempts to prove otherwise) and an imminent announcement from Randazzo, it’s most likely that the next election will feature a clash between Scioli’s proposal for continuity and Macri’s call for change. We won’t have to wait long to find out.