Argentina was rocked by the news on Saturday that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had announced, via social media, her intention to run for the vice-presidency, joining with her former Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernández who will run as the presidential candidate.
"Fernández in the government, Kirchner in power," was one catchphrase used widely over the weekend. The phrase has its origins in the 1973 electoral campaign of Héctor Cámpora, who months after taking office succeeded to Juan Domingo Perón.
"Cristina is not Perón and I'm not Cámpora. And, what's more, Cristina knows it because one day I quit [her government] and we were politically distant for 10 years", Fernández said in an exclusive interview with Página/12 published Sunday.
In a similar tone, a photo of some ironic graffiti went viral on social media along with countless memes. It read "Alberto presidenta," using the informal Spanish feminine term for "presidente" (president).
The 'Fernández-Fernández' ticket came as a bombshell for the country's politics and media, with not a single rumour of the decision having leaked to the press in the days prior to Saturday.
Saturday news stands were awash with stories about the impact the alliance will have on the electoral campaign.
Already some observers say that so-called "third option" candidates like former Economy minister Roberto Lavagna will struggle to compete against Alberto Fernández.
Fernández is known as a competent political operator and negotiator with strong ties across the broad Church of Peronism: from the left-wing youth movement, La Cámpora, led by Máximo Kirchner to the dissident Peronist leader Sergio Massa.
For his part, Massa is in talks with the Fernández-Fernández camp over a potential run for the Governorship of Buenos Aires province, Perfil reported, where he would face María Eugenia Vidal.
The impact of President Mauricio Macri's campaign strategy was not immediately clear over the weekend though pressure will inevitably mount for the President to quickly announce his running mate.
Pollsters have long suggested the President's chances of re-election would benefit from a Fernández de Kirchner candidacy, since her polarising effect on the electorate has in previous elections seemed to favour the government at the ballot box.
Calls have rung out throughout 2019 for Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal to replace Macri as the Cambiemos (Let's Change) coalition's candidate, though both Macri and Vidal have downplayed that strategy during several recent public appearances together.
PULLING OUT THE ARCHIVES
The country's media, with little to grab onto but Fernández de Kirchner's 12-minute video announcement about her intentions, spent much of the weekend delving into old archives in which Alberto Fernández can be heard criticising his former boss.
"Cristina's view of reality is enormously distorted", Fernández said in 2015, after her candidate Daniel Scioli lost against Macri at the ballot box.
Fernández was Néstor Kirchner's Cabinet Chief from 2003 to 2007 and Fernández de Kirchner's Cabinet Chief from 2007 to July, 2008.
He once described her second government, which ended with Macri's win in 2015, as "deplorable".
"[The] economy has been destroyed with a freeze on the exchange rate, the closing off of the economy, the loss of reserves, the rupture of the relationship between the dollar and the peso; poverty goes up; and she denies it all exists," he charged.
Fernández de Kirchner's "institutional" behaviours are "deployable", he said.
"Everything she has done regarding the Judiciary is deplorable, everything she has done with the Magistrate's Council is deplorable... everything she has done with the agreement with Iran is deplorable, the death of Nisman is deplorable... with regards to the second government of Cristina, I struggle to find any value", he charged.