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Argentine Political Outlook (Jun-07-19) PDF Imprimir E-Mail
Jun-07-19, by Rosendo Fraga

1. Massa's decision to join a large opposition front that brings together all the sectors determined to confront Macri implies that he gets onboard of Kirchnerism. It is the most important political force of the opposition and for this reason, Massa's message has been clear. This has been interpreted by Kirchnerism, which through Alberto Fernandez has initiated talks for the inclusion of Massa's Frente Renovador to the Frente Patrótico composed of Unidad Ciudadana -Cristina's party- the Justicialist Party- presided over by Gioja who has said that Massa must join this coalition- and another 16 parties.The Front led by the Kirchnerism, which incorporates Massa and his party, is called the Frente Patriotico. In this agreement, the former mayor of Tigre would not have any relevant electoral role, but in a possible government of the Fernandez-Fernandez duo, he would control a position of significant power, such as YPF, the country's most important oil company. Negotiations cannot be delayed much longer, because June 12 is the deadline to present alliances. Alberto Fernández has not added votes to the slate he is part of, but Massa does gain them. He averages 10% of voting preferences in polls and if he could drag with him two thirds of votes, it could add between 6 and 7 points, which would allow Cristina's Frente Patrotico to go from the 35 points that it has to something more than 40, which could mean winning in the first round. 

2. Cristina has the political initiative since May 9 when she presented her book while Cambiemos fails to react. After the book, she surprisingly launched her slate placing herself as a candidate for Vice President; then she imposed the Kicillof-Magario ticket for the province of Buenos Aires and now adds Massa to her opposition front. This week she presents a foreign policy book in her Instituto Patria. Meanwhile Macri does not react politically. He maintains public works as the axis of his campaign and manages to maintain exchange rate stability. But politically, the ruling party is paralyzed. The UCR Convention met and asked for more participation in defining the campaign strategy and expanding the ruling coalition, which implies incorporating sectors of the anti-K PJ. Having managed to avoid his replacement by Vidal as candidate for the Presidency, Macri agreed to discuss the candidacy for Vice President. But as the days go by, the alternative of a radical or a Peronist integrating the formula was losing steam. Sanz and Lousteau are the names that emerge from the UCR and Pichetto and Urtubey -who publicly rejected the possibility- from the anti-K PJ, but with little chance of being elected. 

3. In this framework, Alternativa Federal seems to fall apart, the "third way" loses viability and the polarization between Macri and Cristina tends to accentuate. The anti-K PJ is dismantled as the axis of the third space deprived of Lavagna and Massa -the two main presidential candidates. For his part, the Governor of Cordoba has just started a trip taking distance from politics and recognizing that his space has been dismantled. Pichetto or Urtubey do not have electoral volume to head a third alternative and are lured by Cambiemos. Of all the governors, nine have expressed their support for the Fernández-Fernández ticket, four are having talks with her and only three have remained on the sidelines. The process of Peronism reunification leads the PJ governors to abandon Alternativa Federal and partner up with Kirchnerism. Lavagna for his part will ratify his presidential candidacy on June 5 opening his electoral command and will be a candidate for Socialism and GEN, without ruling out including sectors or leaders of the UCR and the PJ. Only if Macri lost control of the economy before the elections, the former Minister of Economy would recover the chances of representing the third space. At the same time, the resumption of the "green" campaign in favor of abortion gives more space to the alliance that brings together three parties that oppose it, which drive Juan José Gómez Centurión as candidate, and at the other end of the political arc, the left parties move on in a process of electoral unification. This is how Macri and Cristina succeed in intensifying the polarization they are seeking, preventing the emergence of a third competitive space. But Kirchnerism manages to expand its alliances and reunite Peronism while there is no similar process in Cambiemos. 

4. The three provincial elections held on Sunday, June 2, confirm the defeats of the national government and the tendency that local governments are winning in all cases. In San Juan (557,000 voters), Justicialist Governor Sergio Uñac was re-elected, with more than 20 points ahead of Cambiemos -which is called "Frente con Vos" in this province. In Misiones (900,000 voters), the candidate of the provincial PJ ruling party (Ahuad) with 60 points of lead over Cambiemos -which is called Frente Juntos por el Cambio- driving the National President of the PRO as candidate (Shiavone). In Corrientes, a province ruled by Cambiemos - where it is called Eco - it won for provincial legislators with a 40-point edge over Kirchnerism. (Along with Santiago del Estero, they are the two provinces that do not elect governor). Cambiemos has lost six elections for Governor (Neuquén, Río Negro, Córdoba, La Pampa, San Juan, Misiones) and four open primaries (Chubut, San Juan, Entre Ríos and Santa Fe). The Adinistration contends that in all cases the provincial government has won -as has happened with the victory of Cambiemos in Corrientes - a situation that may favor it since it has the national government and two of the four main districts (Buenos Aires and City of Buenos Aires). But in the three provinces that had elections on Sunday, the local leaders of the national coalition, chose not to use the name "Cambiemos" to avoid the electoral cost -without much success- of representing the national government. 

5. To conclude: 

a) Massa's decision to be part of an opposition front to compete with Macri means he is negotiating an alliance with Kirchnerism and takes some distance away from Alternativa Federal. 

b) Cristina has had the political initiative during May and early June, Macri keeps without reacting, focused on public works and dollar stability as the pillar of his electoral strategy. 

c) The possibility of a third competitive space fades away as Alternativa Federal gets dismantled and Lavagna's political base gets smaller, deepening the polarization sought by Macri and Cristina. 

d) The local elections of Sunday show Cambiemos has lost six elections for Governor and four open primaries, winning only one provincial legislative election.  

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