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ARGENTINA | 30-04-2023 09:07

Alberto, CFK and Massa: three different strategies for the upcoming elections

Sergio Massa’s management is supported by Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but she has not blessed his candidacy. President Alberto Fernández insists that he will present his own hopeful, but the economy minister’s battle against inflation and currency crises – and how they play out – could be the deciding factor.

While repeating that he does not want to be a presidential candidate in October, Sergio Massa calls a governor in Argentina and gives him the news he was waiting for: he will release the funds for the work he has been demanding. 

The territorial chief, who faces elections in May, has been trying for weeks to move a file forward in dialogue with another minister who goes knocking on the doors of the Economy Ministry to get the money. 

Instead, Massa capitalises with his signature and in a call, he lets the provincial governor know that he personally is the one who decided that the paperwork should move forward. He says he doesn't want to be a candidate, but the governor knows he does and that, if he does, he will seek a return of gratitude.

Upon taking office, Massa adopted a stock response to every political move that rocked the ruling Frente de Todos coalition: "I don't have time for that – don't you think I have a few more complex problems on my plate,"  he replied, before going on to list them: the dollar and the exchange rate(s), the IMF, the deficit, the reserves, inflation, etc. Months later, the problems are the same, but once again, he has taken refuge in politics. Using the alibi of management and in the face of numbers that do not follow his plans, Massa strives to show off the political support for his work. 

Over the past week, there have been plenty of photos with governors, trade unionists and businessmen. When he became minister, Massa shared a photograph too with Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The duo, key leaders in the ruling coalition,  still speak to each other regularly and meet once a week. Recently, there has been no other opportunity to show them together, though this doesn’t mean there is a lack of support from the former president for Massa's administration. She endorses practically every move that comes out of the Economy Ministry. 

Some sources  assure that the veep’s candidate is Massa, but the Senate chief has made it clear that she does not yet have a name when discussing the likely candidate for the presidency for Frente de Todos. CFK knows that the party’s support base is asking for her to stand and the definition of her presentation is also tied to the economy, now led by Massa, whom she follows very closely. 

Within the Casa Rosada, they believe that Cristina will not be a candidate. From the Senate, they say that Fernández de Kirchner knows she is the past and that it is necessary to look ahead.

When the head of state is asked about a future dialogue with the vice-president, President Fernández replies that the time will come. He believes that Kirchnerism has no strategy for the October election, that they do not know where to go and that they don’t want the PASO primaries to be competitive because they don’t have a candidate. There are those who say Massa would be a name of consensus, but others explain that this is not the case.

The president insists that the PASO is a fact, that they will take place and that he will have a candidate to present for the internal battle. "We have a plan that begins with maintaining unity and promoting the democratisation of the party as much as possible. From then on, we must agree on the most transparent and comprehensive rules for the PASO" primaries, he tells his team. 

For now, the president has no joint electoral strategy with either CFK or Massa. There are no differences, however, in the relationship between the head of state and the minister regarding the management of the economy. "We gave him all the buttons," recalls the president's entourage. Over the last week, and with a run on the currency in exchange markets, communication between the head of state and the minister was continuous and fluid. On the telephone in the president's office, the minister's number appears as the first direct line. Fernández presses a key and not only listens to Massa, he also sees him on the screen. This is the image that the president has seen the most in recent days.

Both will be in Brazil on Tuesday, as Fernández prepares to meet his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Another candidate will also be present: Argentina’s Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli. Massa does not particularly want to see the ex-governor, but they will have to share activity. 

Argentina’s head of state also talks to his Brazilian counterpart on a fairly daily basis. "I'm there whenever you want," the president told Lula last week, when he asked him when he could travel to make progress on the cooperation agreements.

Rosario Ayerdi

Rosario Ayerdi

Jefa de Política. Mail: [email protected]

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