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Argentine Political Outlook (May-20-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
May-20-19, by Rosendo Fraga

1. A quarter of a century ago, the country was surprised by an unexpected political pact: the Olivos Pact, agreed between Menem and Alfonsin. Something similar has happened now with the Fernández-Fernández ticket. The then President used to say that success in politics required three conditions: information, secrecy and surprise. The decision of Cristina Kirchner in this opportunity, seems to have met that premise stated by Carlos Menem back then. The announcement takes place in the two weeks of greatest political vertigo, at least since Macri came to power on December 10, 2015. On May 7, everyone talked about the agreement convened by Macri and extended to unions, the business and social sectors; two days later, attention was captured by the launch of Cristina's book at the Book Fair; on Sunday the 12th, the overwhelming triumph of Schiaretti in Córdoba seized the moment; two days later, the visit of the former President to the national meeting of the PJ, photographed with governors and mayors, was on the scene; two days later, the conflict with the Court over the possible postponement of the first trial against Cristina; now, the announcement of her ticket seconding Alberto Fernández as Vice President and on Tuesday 21, she is expected to appear before court, at the beginning of the first oral hearing against her. Three weeks are still to go before the formal announcement of alliances and one month for the candidacies. In this hectic times, many things can happen before the definitions, but something is clear: the thrust was pushed by Cristina Kirchner. 

2. The first repercussions show a high political impact, although in reality the change is not that big. The former President has answered Hamlet's dilemma of "to be or not to be". Finally, she will be part of the presidential ticket, but as Vice President, not as President. It will be an unusual situation: the votes will go for the second and not for the first. So far, she leads voting preferences while people know Alberto Fernández less and have little voting preferences for him. She will play a decisive role in the campaign. Will votes be aimed at her or him? There is no doubt that the popular vote that remains faithful to Kirchnerism will do opt for her. In the event of winning: Will she be a Vice President by protocol, limited to presiding over the Senate, or will she exercise the relevant political role derived from her electoral support? The second more than the first choice is likely. In addition, in Argentina the relationship between President and Vice has never been easy. Will this be an exception? But nothing is absolutely ruled out in Argentine politics and the mentioned terms for the formalization of alliances and candidacies are a very long political-electoral time in Argentina. 

3. The Fernández-Fernández ticket causes an impact on the PJ and will generate "readjustments". It has been proposed as a call to unify the entire Peronism. Half a dozen governors have supported the initiative and during this week some more will do. But in Alternativa Federal -the most important expression of the anti-K PJ- three of its referents (Schiaretti, Pichetto and Urtubey) reject it and Massa only has given positive signals - there are those who now think of him as the only candidate for the PJ Buenos Aires government- who had been assuming "ambiguous" positions towards Cristina. Lavagna has also rejected it. In the middle of the week, Shciaretti will bring together this political sector and the non-Peronist allies to ratify the project of creating a "third space" between Kichnerism and Cambiemos. Within the first one, presidential nominees such as Solá and Rossi have given up their candidacy and for now Scioli maintains the idea of a "big open primaries of the PJ", in which all sectors are invited to participate, including the anti-K. The idea of Kirchnerism is that although Alberto Fernández does not have votes, the "anti-K" image he has had for almost a decade, may help mitigate the polarization that is the backbone of the ruling party campaign. They also speculate that among the factors of power, pressure groups and interest groups, this ticket reduces the "fears" of an eventual "K" return. Fernandez has already stated that he is neither La Cámpora nor Cristina nor Perón, rejecting statements by the President of the UCR (Cornejo). He said that he will be the President but will consult Cristina. Their identity is shared above all in judicial matters. The same day that Cristina had notified of her candidacy to Alberto Fernandez, he said publicly that the judges who try Cristina were going to have to give explanations for what they were doing, triggering a response from the Association of Magistrates. Once their candidacy was announced, he said that Cristina was "a victim" of the judicial system. 

4. The impact has also been strong outside of Peronism and especially within Cambiemos. The ruling party says that this favors it, but it is a systematic statement that has been made in recent months against any political event that harms or complicates it. Those within Cambiemos who think that Vidal is a better candidate than Macri - as the polls say - will insist with this position in the face of the change in the political-electoral situation implied by the surprising K ticket. The radical convention that will meet on May 27 will be tense and it is still possible that a sector with "symbolic" weight will support Lavagna, without for that reason being expelled from the party. The national leadership of Coalición Cívica met without Carrio, ratifying the support for Macri's candidacy. At the same time, the "progressive" sector that supports Lavagna -the Socialism and the GEN- would ratify their position this week after the meeting convened by Schiaretti and the sector of the left represented by Pino Solanas, and Victoria Donda would do the same with the Fernandez -Fernández ticket. 

5. To conclude: 

a) The announcement of the Fernandez-Fernandez ticket takes place amid the two weeks of greatest political "volatility" in the three and a half years since Macri took office, a situation slated to continue. 

b) The changing scenario opens up many questions as to how power will be exerted between the two, how Cristina will act as the legitimate "vote owner" and when an eventual K ruling will get moderated or not. 

c) Within the PJ, almost half of the governors have given positive signs towards Cristina's running mate ticket, but three of the four leaders of Argentina Federal rejected it. 

d) In the ruling coalition, the impact has been negative since it weakens polarization by attenuating Cristina's electoral role, as progressive sectors will maintain their alliance with Lavagna.

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