The Alternativa Federal ("Federal Alternative") movement is on the verge of collapse, local reports have suggested, following years of manouvering by dissident Peronists and smaller parties to ensure that the 2019 general and presidential elections would not be defined by polarisation between former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and President Mauricio Macri.
But the man most thought capable of contesting the influence and popularity of Fernández de Kirchner and Macri — Sergio Massa — could this week finally pull the pin on Alternativa Federal.
Massa "is invited" to join Fernández de Kirchner and an increasingly unified Peronist movement, presidential hopeful Alberto Fernández said Saturday.
Fernández will contest the presidency with Fernández de Kirchner as his running mate. That decision has thrown a wet towel over the hopes of many non-aligned Peronists, who had previously refused to work towards returning Fernández de Kirchner to power but are now seeing dozens of governors, mayors and lawmakers signing up to the so-called Fernández-Fernández ticket.
"I don't have much more to say. I have spoken many times with him ([Massa]. Now the decision is his to make," Fernández told Radio 10.
"He's invited. We want him to participate, we want him to join us. We believe it would be important. But the decision is his," he added.
Fernández and Massa have maintained strong personal and political bonds since Massa quit Fernández de Kirchner's Cabinet, which he led for one year as Cabinet Chief from 2008 to 2009, having replaced Fernández.
Massa's own party, Renewal Front, last week voted in favour of his continued presidency of the dissident Peronist party, which remains part of the Alternativa Federal alliance, at least for now.
Massa's warming to the Kirchnerite movement, though not public, has already caused damage to the coalition. Former Economy minister and well-polling hopeful Roberto Lavagna essentially quit the alliance last week, confirming he would not run in a primaries contest against Massa.
"The positioning of Sergio [Massa] inside the Kirchnerite movement gives us the possibility of capturing votes from those in the electorate who are not willing to see him in an alliance with the past, which [those voters] have rejected these past few years", a source at Lavagna's weekend campaign meeting told Perfil.