With just two weeks to go to the midterms, President Alberto Fernández will be playing in his comfort zone: He’ll be in Europe for summits and a series of bilateral meetings showing him with world leaders, while seeking support for an agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Problems like Frente de Todos infighting and the future of his coalition after November 14 will be thousands of kilometres away.
Last Thursday night, the president headed out to Rome to participate in the G20 Leaders Summit. The official agenda starts Saturday with discussion of global post-pandemic recovery and continues onto Sunday, after which he will head out to Glasgow to intervene in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26).
But beyond these activities, the president has a double-digit number of bilateral meetings confirmed in Rome to occupy him. In many ways, they are the primary aim of his trip.
The meeting stealing all the attention will be his time with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, due to take place on Saturday, at which he will be joined by Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, who is already in Europe. The tone which Fernández will use abroad to renegotiate the debt is the big unknown – he toughened his discourse at his recent tribute to Néstor Kirchner. As the only speaker, he issued a message maintaining that Argentines come first and debt second.
Apart from Georgieva, other bilateral meetings are scheduled with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel; the president of the European Council, Charles Michel; Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
On Sunday, Fernández will be holding bilateral meetings with Buenos Aires-born Dutch Queen Máxima, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. That same afternoon the Argentine official committee will be flown to Glasgow for the COP 26 summit where the Argentine president will be meeting his Costa Rican and Swiss counterparts, Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Guy Parmelin respectively.
The president is travelling with First Lady Fabiola Yáñez, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and Guzmán, among others. It will be the first time Fernández will be travelling with such a large delegation with many officials making their débuts.
The presidential delegation will also include Environment Minister Juan Cabandié, Argentine Ambassador to the United States and G20 sherpa Jorge Argüello, presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti, presidential chief-of-staff Julio Vitobello, Strategic Affairs Secretary Gustavo Beliz, chief advisor Juan Manuel Olmos; presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini and Communication and Press Undersecretary Marcelo Martín.
Frente de Todos infighting and the electoral campaign will be set to one side until next Tuesday. While in Europe the president will concentrate on seeking international support for Argentina’s debt stance. But with little free time in his formal agenda, the long hours of flight-time, seated next to officials of his maximum confidence, might serve to start discussing how his administration will carry on in the event of an another adverse result on November 14 – and how he will deal with his allies after that.