Voters in Santa Fe province, a key electoral battle ground in Argentina, will head to the polls on Sunday to vote in a primaries race that will determine the final slate of candidates for governor, vice-governor, as well as provincial and local lawmakers.
Among the parties contesting the June 16 vote, only the Peronist party is using this Sunday's PASO primaries contest to determine its final candidate for governor. The ruling Progressive Front and the national government's Cambiemos coalition candidate face no internal competition.
For the Progressive Front, former governor and sitting provincial Lower House speaker Antonio Bonfatti led a recent poll with 29.5 percent voting intention, according to data from Raúl Aragon y Asociados, published by Perfil.
Peronist candidates Omar Perotti and María Eugenia Bielsa follow him with 27.7 and 19.1 percent voting intention respectively, while Cambiemos' candidate José Corral scores 18.2 percent, the poll found.
President Macri visited the province on Wednesday to put his weight behind Corral, while several Cambiemos coalition members hit the airwaves and newspaper to talk up the national government's activities in the province. Some like firebrand lawmaker Elisa Carrió took things one step further, accusing former governor Bonfatti of having ties with drug-traffickers.
"If anyone wants to vote for the [drug-trafficking gang] Los Monos, then vote for Bonfatti," the Civic Coalition said during an interview with Rosario3.com during her visit to the province on Monday.
In turn, Bonfatti described Carrió as a "liar and serial destroyer," in dialogue with Radio La Red.
The Progressive Front has ruled Santa Fe province for three consecutive governorships under Hermes Binner, Antonio Bonfatti and outgoing Socialist governor Miguel Lifschitz.
The province is shaping up as a key indicator for the October general and presidential elections.
Bonfatti polls particularly well in Rosario, Argentina's third largest city, where he enjoys a voting intention of 31.2 percent.
The Progressive Front is aligned with the so-called "third option" candidacies of the likes of Sergio Massa and Roberto Lavagna. Its success – or failure – in June could determine third-option candidates' chances of breaking through the polarisation between President Mauricio Macri and former president-cum-Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
On a national level, Fernández de Kirchner leads voting intention among Santa Fe residents with 38.3 percent, rising to 39.1 percent in Rosario, the Rául Aragon y Asociados survey reported. President Macri follows closely with 31.8 percent while Sergio Massa and Governor of Salta province Juan Manuel Urtubey score 8.4 and 6.1 percent respectively.