The Unidad Ciudadana (Citizens’ Unity) electoral front she created to support her 2017 mid-term election campaign as a Buenos Aires province senatorial candidate has begun its nationwide expansion. In 2019, it will compete in the general and presidential elections.
The so-called Kirchernite movement is today composed of six key political factions: the La Cámpora youth movement led by Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque; Martín Sabbatella’s Nuevo Encuentro; the Frente Grande, whose leader is Ensenada mayor Mario Secco; Diana Conti’s Partido de la Victoria; Kolina, led by Carlos Castagneto; and the National Alfonsín Movement led by Leopoldo Moreau.
Fernández de Kirchner’s former presidential secretary Oscar Parrilli is their coordinator.
As the Perfil newspaper reported last weekend, the ex-AFI intelligence chief is in charge of expanding the Kirchnerite electoral front into the provinces. Parrilli has met with possible candidates in Salta, Neuquén, Corrientes and Chaco provinces. The tour continues onto the provinces of Córdoba and Entre Ríos.
His objective is to run candidates in every province. In some parts of the country, Miles, Forja, PI, and some labourist movements support the former president. In others, the Kirchners have even forged relationships with sectors of the the Peronist umbrella party, the Justicialist Party (JP).
This territorial expansion is likely to buoy the former president in the difficult negotiations she will face with those Peronists who are most reluctant to accept her leadership. The appearance of strong Kirchnerite candidates in provinces ruled by so-called “rational Peronists” could complicate their own electoral chances.
Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey had a difficult time in last year’s mid-term elections, with the dispersion of the Peronist vote between his and Fernández de Kirchner’s candidates putting him in second place behind President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change)) coalition.
For the time being, Unidad Ciudadana is focused on strengthening its alliances; ratifying the former president’s leadership; scrutinising the government’s social and economic policies; repudiating the US$50-billion stand-by loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners.”
Unidad Ciudadana is not lacking other potential candidates. Former Defence minister Agustín Rossi has been touring the country. Others like former Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich and ex-governor of San Luis province Alberto Rodríguez Saá are also in consideration. Even former Buenos Aires province governor Felipe Solá has expressed his interest.
But they all know they are Plan B and understand they will have to work toward the former president’s candidacy, if need be.
“She doesn’t want to be [a candidate], but she does want to win,” sources at the Patria Institute, Kirchnerism’s bunker in Buenos Aires City, told Perfil. Those close to the senator insist she would prefer to avoid running in the next election. Her final decision will depend on her front’s chances of winning, they say.
“Cristina has always defined candidacies at the last minute and the next election will be no exception. She is very active [in defining candidacies]. She speaks not only with those close to her, but also with those who aren’t so close,” sources said. “If next year, polls show her as the leader with the strongest chances of beating Macri, she will have no doubt [about running as a presidential candidate]. She wants to win, and if she has to be the one to achieve it, she will be.”