Expectations — and tensions — are rising about economist Roberto Lavagna's possible candidacy in the October presidential race.
Despite rumours to the contrary, allies of dissident Peronist leader Sergio Massa told reporters this weekend that Lavagna "remained part" of their Renewal Front (FR) movement.
Several Peronist leaders have long expressed their interest in running for the presidency, but insiders say some, like Massa, would be willing to put their ambitions on hold in favour of a Lavagna victory.
Massa and Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey met on January 22, the Noticias Argentinas news agency reported. The pair are in a dilemma, since they both intend to run for the candidacy in the PASO primaries. However, the growth in Lavagna's already strong approval ratings of around 40 percent have far outpaced their own.
"They are top quality political leaders who have proven their will and vocation to be" presidents, but "the people" and time will decide whether they will be candidates, sources from Massa's inner circles told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.
WHO IS LAVANGA?
Supporters of economist Roberto Lavagna, 76, claim he has the technical capacity to guide the country’s economy through rough seas while also healing the wounds of more than a decade of social and political polarisation.
Among other links to Argentina's Executive branch, Lavagna was economy minister under former president Néstor Kirchner, from 2002 to 2005; Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations, from 2000 to 2002; and former president Raúl Alfonsín’s Industry and Foreign Trade Secretary from 1985 to 1987.
Lavagna ran for president in 2007, placing third behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Elisa Carrió. He secured over three million votes, or 16.91 percent, and secured the most votes in a key electoral battleground, Córdoba province.
The former economy minister is highly regarded across the political spectrum. That has proven true in a recent poll by D’Alessio/Berensztein, which has included Lavagna in its polling since February.
One of Lavagna's only statements about the rumours he will run for president was: “You'll have to convince my wife.”
At 76, he would be one of Argentina's oldest presidential candidates.
One of Lavagna's earliest cheerleaders as a potential presidential candidate was former president Eduardo Duhalde.
Lavagna, Duhalde said last week, was "a rational man who gets along with all sectors. He is a very serious and responsible man".
"I don't believe Lavagna is divisive, on the contrary. I admired him and I believe he is a patriot... I believe he's the ideal candidate for our times. He hasn't announced his candidacy but I believe he's the right man," he told Radio Diez.