Last Sunday’s provincial elections in Córdoba and Formosa had contrasting results with a tight race in the former and a landslide in the latter, re-electing Peronist Governor Gildo Insfrán to a record eighth term, although both contests were incumbent wins like most this year.
While Córdoba maintained the continuity of 24 years of Peronist rule under the late José Manuel de la Sota and outgoing Governor Juan Schiaretti, there is a new face at the provincial helm – Córdoba City Mayor Martín Llaryora, 50, who was three points ahead of PRO Senator Luis Juez representing Juntos por el Cambio with 95 percent of the vote counted more than 24 hours after polls closed.
Juez, strongly implying foul play due to the suspension of data transmission, has yet to concede with some 100,000 votes outstanding when Llaryora’s edge was around 57,000.
The wafer-thin lead contrasts with Schiaretti’s 2019 majority of almost 40 percent against a divided Radical opposition. Llaryora will be succeeded at City Hall by Daniel Passerini, who won the provincial capital with considerably more comfort.
Third place in a polarised race did not go to any of the nine other gubernatorial candidates but to a blank vote of 4.9 percent in a low turnout of around two-thirds. This more than doubled the Kirchnerite vote (Federico Alessandri of Creo en Córdoba), which finished in a humiliating sixth place with just one of the 70 legislators (of whom Juntos por el Cambio won 34 as against 32 for the Peronists, thus pointing to ballot-splitting at the expense of Juez).
The also-rans were topped by a local independent party (Encuentro Vecinal Córdoba under Aurelio García Elorrio) with the libertarian La Libertad Avanza (Agustín Spacessi) and the leftist Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores (Liliana Olivero) also outvoting Kirchnerism.
Election night itself was a nail-biter with the first results at 7.20pm (3.7 percent of the vote) showing Juez well ahead with 45.5 percent as against 38 percent for the eventual winner but by 10pm his lead had vanished.
Insfrán, who topped 70 percent in 2019, fell just short this time at 69.2 percent but his margin was bigger than ever thanks to a divided opposition.
Radical Deputy Fernando Carbajal, who had managed to team most opposition parties up with Juntos por el Cambio in a Frente Amplio Formoseño, polled 20.2 percent, while rancher Francisco Paoltroni, 42, running as Libertad, Trabajo y Progreso (a brand-new rural party strong in western Formosa and identifying nationwide with libertarian Javier Milei) just made it into double digits.
The remaining 0.6 percent of valid votes went to the Trotskyist Partido Obrero in a high turnout of around 80 percent.
A key factor in Insfrán’s triumph was the fact that 64 of the 88 lists of legislative and local candidates were topped with his name. Insfrán’s Justicialist (Peronist) Party failed to win the provincial capital but it fell to an Insfrán ally (Jorge Jofre of Valores Ciudadanos will be the new mayor) rather than to the opposition’s Gabriela Neme.
Carbajal, who backs Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta nationwide, complained of a lack of enthusiasm on the part of local Radicals supporting Patricia Bullrich.