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ARGENTINA | 20-05-2019 10:37

Peronist Sergio Ziliotto secures comfortable win in La Pampa

President Mauricio Macri's Cambiemos coalition loses another provincial election as Peronists retain La Pampa with a decisive win.

Sergio Ziliotto will succeed the outgoing governor of La Pampa province, Carlos Verna, in the post after securing a comfortable win on Sunday in provincial elections.

Ziliotto defeated his nearest rival, Daniel Kroneberger, who run for President Mauricio Macri's Cambiemos (Let's Change) coalition, taking 52 percent of the vote.

The Peronist's  triumph is the second major Peronist win after Cordoba incumbent Juan Schiaretti blitzed the race for governor in that province last weekend, and the first since the bombshell announcement that former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will run as vice-presidential candidate alongside Alberto Fernández.

"The people of La Pampa have chosen the path of Peronism. The people of La Pampa have voted in self defence. The people of La Pampa do not change and they have ratified their support for the Peronist style of governance which has been in place for 30 years," Ziliotto said during a press conference following the first vote count on Sunday.

Ziliotto took 52 percent of the vote to the 35 percent for Kroneberger.

His success took root in outgoing Governor Verna's political manoeuvring to ensure the Ziliotto candidacy received support from across the so-called "broad church" of Peronism: from orthodox power-players in the Justicialist Party (JP) structure to Fernandez de Kirchner's Unidad Ciudadana and dissident Peronist Sergio Massa's Renewal Front. Verna was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The mayorship of Santa Rosa, the province's largest city and capital, was taken by Luciano Di Napoli, a Kirchnerite candidate.

"I suggested him [Ziliotto] when I thought about who I myself wouldn't hesitate to vote for. I trust him and his work. I know the province will be left in good hands and we will work towards restoring unity among Peronists before May 19", Verna said before the elections via Twitter.

Peronists have controlled the province for nine consecutive terms since the return of democracy in 1983.

BACKGROUND

Ziliotto, 56, hails from General Pico, La Pampa's second-largest city. His political career began in the Peronist Youth movement as a student at La Pampa National University.

From 1999 to 2003 he served as an advisor to then-Senator Carlos Verna.

In La Pampa province, he was Social Policies under secretary until 2006 followed by a two-year stint as Social Wellbeing minister.

In 2015, he was elected as a national lawmaker representing La Pampa.

Ziliotto surprised many last year when he voted on par with his fellow provincial lawmakers Ariel Rauschenberger and Melina Delú in favour of a bill to decriminalise elective abortion - a bill which ultimately failed in the national Upper House.

"The State must be present and must have an active role in giving more rights to women to end social inequality", he said.

-TIMES/PERFIL

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