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Cambiemos coalition fractures in Córdoba amid tension over primaries

At a key strategy summit for PRO Party leaders on Monday, the message was clear: Mauricio Macri will run for president, unchallenged from within his own coalition.

Monday 11 March, 2019
President Mauricio Macri addresses the PRO Party Assembly on Monday March 11, 2019.
President Mauricio Macri addresses the PRO Party Assembly on Monday March 11, 2019. Foto:Noticias Argentinas

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Cracks within President Mauricio Macri's ruling Cambiemos coalition began splintering on Monday in Córdoba province, where a key Radical leader announced his plans to run independently of the coalition for the mayorship of the capital.

Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, at a key strategy summit among PRO Party leaders, the message was clear: Mauricio Macri will run for president, unchallenged from within his own coalition.

Luis Juez — who leads Córdoba's Radical movement, the Civic Front — requested Monday that the Córdoba provincial Electoral College grant him permission to run for office separate from Cambiemos (Let's Change), the coalition which secured Macri's 2015 presidential win. 

There is also growing concern within the government that UCR Radical Party candidate for the governorship, sitting national congressman Mario Negri, could also split from Cambiemos.

Macri's PRO Party in Córdoba "has taken over" the process of organising primaries among coalition members "as if it were an internal Radical process", Juez told FM La Patriada in his latest public statements last week.

"We wanted an independent and transparent electoral process", he complained.

The request is in the hands of Judge Marta Vidal, whose final ruling will seemingly have no impact on the grim outlook for Cambiemos in Córdoba.

The province, a staunchly Radical part of the country, will go to the polls on March 17. Juez had previously been preparing to face Rodrigo de Loredo in the Cambiemos primaries.

A similar situation is unfolding for the governorship, where Negri and Ramón Mestre were set to face one another in the primaries.

If Negri — a power player in national politics as a UCR Radical Party lawmaker in Congress — chooses Juez's same path, the Cambiemos coalition in Córdoba is all but over.

Publicly, the government is standing by Negri. Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña told reporter last week the government would support his candidacy for the governorship.

The Cambiemos National Work group met Monday, where Mauricio Macri was a surprise speaker.

"The main objective is Macri's reelection. The tension close to the finish line is logical because everyone wants to be a protagonist for change, but there is no space for everyone and we also have commitments with other members of the coalition. But the propriety is the reelection of Macri", Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.

On Monday evening, firebrand lawmaker Elisa Carrió, who is the leader of the Cambiemos' third party Civic Coalition, played down the tension in Córdoba. She also confirmed she would throw her weight behind Negri for the governorship.

"I'm convinced we're going to have a successful election with Negri. He's the one with the highest poll numbers", she told Todo Noticias news channel.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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