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Argentine Political Outlook (May-18-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
May-18-19, por Rosendo Fraga

1. With the presentation of her book "Sinceramente" at the Book Fair, Cristina Kirchner regained the center of the political scene on Thursday, May 9. She confirmed the opinion of those who think that she will finally run for the presidency. She showed that she is in campaign, by addressing the audience clearly and moderately, without reading as is her custom. It was evident that the K militancy is still active as it was present in the outskirts of the Argentine Rural Society. Cristina avoided confrontation, played with irony rather than open criticism, but maintained firm ideological positions. She underestimated the "agreement" initiative proposed by the government saying that it was not enough. Instead, she praised the possibility of a "pact", when referring to the one implemented between 1973 and 1974 by Jose B. Gelbard -a medium-sized businessman linked to the Communist Party- under the presidencies of Cámpora and Perón, which although temporarily achieved the stability of prices, preceded a serious crisis in the government of Isabel Martínez de Perón. She proposed a new "social contract", in which some saw a project of constitutional reform. She spoke several times about Perón and tried to capture the vote of those who today reject her and Macri as well. That same day, Axel Kicillof met with the López Obrador's team, and the next day in the US. at the Wilson Center he said "nobody wants the default". But this note of moderation on the part of the Kirchnerism fell short of casting away the doubts and fears in diverse sectors of the possibility that she might return to the power. 

2. The Administration publicly celebrated the return of Cristina Kirchner to the center of the scene, but it discreetly admits that she is dangerously growing. Cristina - who skillfully used her book as a political tool - speaks again when the economic crisis has weakened Macri and the discontent is deep. As with the President, she needs "polarization to come to power". The government's response was that Kirchnerism has not changed, and if it wins, it will be the same as always and that the aggressiveness shown by its militants with a journalist from Clarín newspaper, shows that it can be worsened by its most radical wing. But at the same time, it is clear that both in the provincial elections as in the suburbs there is a clear rejection of Cambiemos and that in 15 of 24 districts, the ruling party has dropped that name to avoid the political cost of identifying with the national government. The response of the Administration is to propose a campaign for the re-election of "Macri, Vidal and Larreta", based on the fact that the last two have a better image today than the first in public opinion, especially in the province of Buenos Aires and in the city of Buenos Aires, where the ruling party governs and half the votes of the country are found. The inauguration of public works joints the three of them. But this does not prevent underlying pressures on Vidal to be the presidential candidate of Cambiemos, something that Macri continues to reject with the idea of "we must get to June", the date when the candidacies are made official. 

3. The categorical triumph of Governor Juan Schiaretti in the election of Córdoba showed that the creation of a "third space" is still possible. It had the biggest victory of the 10 provincial elections held since 1983, in terms of the percentage reached, the difference over the second and because for the first time a Peronist comes to the mayoralty of the Capital city. Although the ruling party tried to dilute the impact, the political effects have been important and weaken the "polarization" that Macri and Cristina are trying to impose in a coincidental way. Schiaretti provincialized the triumph, avoided references to the candidacies of Lavagna, Massa and Urtubey, but had important political and ideological definitions, which show him critical of the two "poles". He ratified his alignment with the anti-.K PJ, saying that Peronism should be "federal", something that questions the centrality of Cristina's leadership, which is in the suburbs and not in the interior, where she has less adhesion. He argued that Peronism should be "republican", defending the division of powers and in particular judicial independence, differentiating from populism. He claimed to have studied at the Military High School and to become a Reserve Second Lieutenant, something that differentiates him from Kirchnerism. He criticized the "crack". Schiaretti - who does not seem willing to compete for the Presidency - is in a position to be the "builder" of the "third space". For the PRO, the second place reached by the candidate sponsored by the Administration (Negri), over the "pure" radical (Mestre) anticipates that in the national meeting of the UCR that meets on May 27, the sectors that favor to remain within Change will prevail. 

4. Although the early elections do not anticipate national electoral outcomes, they create a political climate and for this reason, those that will take place in the next months until the open primaries, will take on significance. Córdoba is the second district by number of votes and the largest district governed by Peronism. So far, governor elections have been held in two other provinces (Neuquén and Río Negro) and provincial primaries in four (Chubut, San Juan, Entre Ríos and Santa Fe). Cambiemos did not win in any and came third in four (Neuquén, Chubut, Río Negro and Santa Fe). The Kirchunerism for its part did not win in any and competed as such only in three (Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut where it won due to the sum of their candidates in the primaries, but the most voted one was the Governor). This is how the provincial elections until now show that a "third space" is viable. The formalization of candidacies is scheduled for June 22; the election of governor will be held before in La Pampa (May 19); elections are also held in Misiones and San Juan (June 2), a day when legislators in Corrientes are also voted; the following Sunday (June 9), governor elections are held in four provinces: Chubut, Entre Ríos, Jujuy, and Tucumán and non-mandatory primaries are held in Mendoza; the following week (June 16) governor elections are held in Tierra del Fuego, Formosa and Santa Fe. Of this series of elections, the national ruling party would only win in Corrientes and Jujuy, where it governs. (In Mendoza as voting is not mandatory, primaries do not generate competition between the parties). 

5. To conclude: 

a) With the presentation of her book, Cristina regained the center of the political scene, appeared moderate and tried to capture the vote of those who neither choose her nor Macri, but she failed to clarify doubts and fears. 

b) The Administration celebrated her return to politics as she helps maintain polarization, but it also perceived enthusiasm among her supporters, something that goes unnoticed in Cambiemos. 

c) Schiaretti's landslide victory in Cordoba evidences the viability of the "third space", when the series of provincial elections does not show Macri's or Cristina's victories. 

d) The 11 elections for governor to be held from May 19 to June 16 would give one victory to Cambiemos -and a legislative triumph-, and this does not anticipate an outcome but creates a "political climate".

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