Corrientes Province Governor Gustavo Valdés coasted to re-election in regional elections on Sunday, defeating his Peronist rival in a landslide victory.
With 90 percent of ballots tallied, the ruling ECO Corrientes alliance, the local arm of Argentina’s main opposition coalition, looked set for a resounding victory in the northeastern province.
Radical leader Valdés, accompanied by running-mate Pedro Braillard Poccard, took an overwhelming 76 percent of the vote in preliminary results, easily defeating Corrientes de Todos candidate Fabián Ríos, who took 23 percent in preliminary results.
The result came as little surprise, with ECO Corrientes celebrating their victory on Twitter before initial results had even been tallied. Ríos, joined on the ticket by provincial senator Martín Barrionuevo, remained silent, as did much of the country’s ruling coalition.
The election was carried out amid a larger than usual security presence, following the shooting of a provincial deputy during campaigning just three days earlier. Last Thursday night, Peronist deputy Miguel Arias was shot on stage at a rally in Tapebicúa. Doctors say he remains in a “stable condition.”
Of the 864,000 people eligible to vote, around 65 percent turned out to cast their vote, according to local election officials.
Speaking to the TN news channel on Sunday night, Valdés sent his best wishes to Arias, who he said is on the mend.
“To him, his family, to Frente de Todos: I have repudiated violence all my life, we do not promote violence. As part of the UCR and the Encuentro por Corrientes y Vamos Corrientes, we wish the best to Arias and his family, that he recovers soon,” he said.
"I want to thank the UCR, my political party, [and] each of the political parties that accompanied us on this challenge. We have been working for a long time and we do so with great effort,” he declared.
Valdés said he was hopeful that his coalition would control two-thirds of both the provincial lower and upper houses once results were fully tallied.
Opposition politicians nationwide rushed to congratulate Valdés, with many hailing the result as a good sign for their coalition ahead of the upcoming PASO primaries and midterm elections.
"I am sure that the people of Corrientes chose you once again because they know of your vision for the future and your commitment to them all. I am glad that we can continue working together for our country," said Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.
PRO party chair Patricia Bullrich, meanwhile, praised the governor’s “historic result.”
“He has shown that in Argentina there are serious proposals for ending Kirchnerism once and for all,” she declared on Twitter.
Former president Mauricio Macri also sent his congratulations, describing the result as "fair recognition" of the work the Valdés administration has put in.
"Corrientes today demonstrated a deep commitment to democracy," he added.
President Alberto Fernández also sent his best wishes, one of the few voices from the ruling coalition to break ground after the defeat.
"My congratulations to Gustavo Valdés on winning re-election in the beautiful province of Corrientes. We will continue working together with diversity for the good of the beloved people of Corrientes," he wrote on Twitter.
As well as electing a governor and lieutenant-governor, residents in Corrientes are also deciding representatives for five senatorial and 15 provincial deputy seats, as well as 57 mayoral posts.
Sunday’s result is a setback for the Casa Rosada but "it does not forecast anything regarding the [general] midterm" elections, said analyst Raúl Aragón.
"Valdés won because he has managed well in Corrientes, but each province has its own dynamic," he said.