Argentina Economy Minister Sergio Massa will run for president as the only candidate of the government’s ruling coalition.
The coalition, recently rebranded as Union por la Patria, or "unity for the homeland," will run a single candidate in presidential elections to be held later this year, according to a message on Twitter.
Massa, a career politician who finished third in the 2015 presidential race, will be joined by former defence minister Agustín Rossi as his vice-presidential running-mate.
The announcement comes just a day after Interior Minister Eduardo 'Wado' de Pedro, a close ally of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced he would run for the Peronist nomination. In the tweet, the coalition said it recognised de Pedro and Daniel Scioli, who was also seeking the nomination, for “backing the unity of Peronism,” suggesting they would give up their presidential bids.
The government faces a tough re-election bid in the October 22 general elections amid a profound economic crisis. Inflation is charging over 114 percent annually, with the country expected to enter a recession later this year just as it begins paying back the International Monetary Fund on a US$44-billion programme.
Opposition nominees include Patricia Bullrich and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, both competing for the Juntos por el Cambio bloc, and libertarian Javier Milei. President Alberto Fernández is not running for re-election.
Polls show government approval ratings at their lowest level in a decade, which will challenge Massa’s ability to separate his campaign narrative from the government he has helped lead the past three and a half years. At the same time, Massa stands to benefit from the Peronist machine, a dominant political force that’s governed the country for much of the past seven decades.
Despite an unconventional policy approach, Massa is the most business-friendly leader within the populist ruling bloc. He maintains close ties to Biden administration officials and is leading negotiations over Argentina’s programme with the IMF.
Massa was Fernández de Kirchner’s Cabinet chief for part of her presidency, before leaving her administration to form a new party and run for president in 2015 against Fernández de Kirchner’s candidate, Scioli. He finished third. Massa took the reins as economy minister last August amid a political crisis, leaving his prior post as the speaker of the lower house of Congress.
by Patrick Gillespie & Ignacio Olivera Doll, Bloomberg