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Perfil

ARGENTINA | 04-05-2023 00:23

Eight provincial elections in Argentina to watch with national impact

The first two weekends of May come with several provincial elections in which Argentina’s two main coalitions (Frente de Todos and Juntos por el Cambio) can take the temperature of the hinterland. This Sunday will see gubernatorial elections in Jujuy, Misiones and La Rioja, followed by Tucumán, San Juan, Salta, La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego the next Sunday. In all cases the incumbent governments, whether belonging to one of the two main coalitions or provincial parties are tipped as favourites.

This month’s electoral calendar will see no less than eight provincial elections in its first two weekends as Frente de Todos and Juntos por el Cambio start to stake their political capital ahead of October’s presidential election. A priori, all the local governments are up for endorsement, although the final word is yet to be written. 

The provinces of Jujuy, Misiones and La Rioja will be going to the polls on Sunday with the former in particular closely watched. In the northern region,  the Radicals, chaired by outgoing Governor Gerardo Morales, will be seeking to retain their grip on the territory. Provincial Economy Minister Carlos Sadir is their candidate. A resounding triumph would give the Radical chairman greater clout for internal negotiations within the opposition  Juntos por el Cambio coalition,  just when they are reaching fever pitch. According to provincial sources, the Radicals could garner more than 40 percent of the vote, leaving a fragmented Peronism presenting three candidates a distant second.

Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta visited Jujuy during the week and is expected in the bunker on Sunday. Morales, a key UCR leader, is seeking to boost his position within the party thinking of the Radical National Convention, due to convene on June 12 to define alliances and candidacies.

Meanwhile in La Rioja, current Peronist Governor Ricardo Quintela is seeking re-election following a recent health scare, with lawmaker Felipe Álvarez (also of Peronist origin) backed by Rodríguez Larreta as his main rival.  

Misiones Province, long governed by the Frente Renovador para la Concordia (a provincial alliance linking a local party with Peronists and dissident Radicals) will see ex-governor Hugo Passalacqua seeking a return to office. In the last election in 2019, the ruling coalition obtained no less than 70 percent of the vote. The most competitive opposition candidate is the Radical deputy Martín Arjol with Rodríguez Larreta also paying a recent visit to that province, along with other PRO leaders.

May 14 will be the turn of the provinces of Tucumán, San Juan, Salta, La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego. The date will be crucial for Frente de Todos, which is concerned by worrying numbers in nationwide opinion polls. Solid triumphs there could change the ruling coalition’s mood.

In Tucumán, former Cabinet chief and outgoing Governor Juan Manzur will be the running-mate of Osvaldo Jaldo, his former lieutenant-governor and acting governor who is now going for the top spot, following their dispute and subsequent reconciliation. Frente de Todos fancy their chances in this district, which holds the largest electorate of any northern province. The system of ‘colectora’ satellite lists favours  Jaldo, who would stand to dominate Tucumán Peronism should he win.

As Perfil has reported, Manzur is seeking the national stage after his stint as Cabinet chief with the support of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. He also has high chances of entering the Senate, given that he was an alternate candidate in the 2021 midterms and current Senator Pablo Yedlin is running for a seat in the local legislature. Tucumán Peronists believe that they can recover the provincial capital of San Miguel. Juntos por el Cambio’s candidate Roberto Sánchez has 12 satellite lists topped with his name. Rodríguez Larreta was also campaigning there last week.

Another heavyweight vote will take place in San Juan Province, above all due to its Governor Sergio Uñac, who has always harboured nationwide ambitions. In late 2021 Uñac wielded his local parliamentary majority to repeal the provincial PASO primaries, replacing them with a new ley de lemas (holding primaries and the election on the same day). Uñac is going for another term but is being challenged by ex-governor José Luis Gioja on the same Peronist ballot. San Juan Peronists acknowledge that the opposition’s Juntos por el Cambio candidate Marcelo Orrego is competitive. His front houses a total of four different sublema lists.

Over in Salta, Governor Gustavo Sáenz, who is allied to the Casa Rosada, is running for re-election at the head of a provincial front. Following a tense debate over definitions, Juntos por el Cambio eventually picked Radical Miguel Nanni to face him, while Emiliano Estrada is the Kirchnerite candidate.

In La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego – the two provinces with the smallest electorates – two Frente de Todos governors are seeking re-election: Sergio Ziliotto and Gustavo Melella respectively.

The libertarians will be running candidates in only three of these eight districts: Martín Menem in La Rioja, the controversial figure of Ricardo Bussi will stand in Tucumán and Ana Almirón de Pauli will represent the movement  in Tierra del Fuego.

Sources in libertarian leader Javier Milei’s entourage told Perfil that he will not be accompanying his candidates on election night due to “a different logic,” but the presidential candidate was in La Rioja last week, both the provincial capital and Chilecito. Next Monday he will be in Tucuman to back Bussi. The libertarians will be presenting candidates for deputy and senator in every province in the general elections.

 

Super Sundays

  • May 7: Gubernatorial elections in Jujuy, La Rioja and Misiones, with the Radicals, Frente de Todos and the Frente Renovador para la Concordia respectively seeking to remain in power.
  • May 14: Gubernatorial elections in Tucumán, San Juan, Salta, La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego, where Frente de Todos will be seeking to retain its territorial power in all those provinces except Salta, where the local front is going for a new term.
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by Pablo Varela, Perfil

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