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ARGENTINA | 12-06-2023 19:54

Juntos por el Cambio boosted by surprise win in San Luis, Peronists triumph in Tucumán

Opposition coalition records upset win in San Luis gubernatorial vote and consolidates position in Mendoza; Government eases to victory to Tucumán, despite Supreme Court controversy.

The balance of last Sunday’s provincial election results favoured the Juntos por el Cambio opposition with an upset win in San Luis and its power consolidated in Mendoza and Corrientes.

Meanwhile Frente de Todos won big in Tucumán, giving them some solace after the cancellation of the May 14 elections following the confrontation over the Supreme Court’s disqualification of outgoing Governor Juan Manzur.

Juntos por el Cambio’s biggest win came in San Luis Province, where ex-governor Claudio Poggi topped ruling coalition candidate Jorge Fernández to return to office as from December 10. Although running on a list named Avanzar, Poggi said that his party would be joining the main opposition alliance as soon as possible. 

Backed by Senator Adolfo Rodríguez Saá (the brother of outgoing Governor Alberto Rodríguez Saá) as well as Juntos por el Cambio, Poggi ended the Peronist hegemony of the province, as well as the winning streak of incumbent governments in the early dates of the electoral calendar. He had 53.3 percent of the vote with 95 percent of polling stations reporting, compared to 45.8 percent for Fernández.

Juntos por el Cambio presidential hopefuls Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Gerardo Morales and José Luis Espert, accompanied by Margarita Stolbizer and Radical Senator Martín Lousteau, all representing the more moderate sector of the opposition front, travelled to San Luis to join Poggi in the festivities, while the self-styled "hawks" went to Mendoza to salute Radical winner Alfredo Cornejo in the primaries there with former Security minister Patricia Bullrich, who congratulated Poggi from a distance, leading the way.

Rodríguez Larreta travelled first to Corrientes, where the ruling coalition led by Radical Governor Gustavo Valdés romped home in the legislative midterms, before proceeding to San Luis.

The Juntos por el Cambio leaders gathering there signed a communiqué renewing their calls for a broader coalition, which had been frustrated in the previous week by the stillborn bid to incorporate Córdoba Peronist Governor Juan Schiaretti. This communiqué was also undersigned by Civic Coalition leader Elisa Carrió and Miguel Angel Pichetto (Mauricio Macri’s ex-Peronist running-mate in 2019), also a presidential hopeful.


Tucumán landslide

Meanwhile Frente de Todos could only celebrate in Tucumán, where Peronist Osvaldo Jaldo notched up a major victory with 56.3 percent of the vote to mark the movement’s power in the turf now governed by Manzur.

Initially called for May 14, elections had been cancelled after a challenge of Manzur’s candidacy had been upheld by the Supreme Court, to whom Tucumán Peronist leaders ironically dedicated their triumph in the provincial capital.

Interior Minister Eduardo "Wado" De Pedro sped to the province on election night to join several provincial governors in the celebration photos while President Alberto Fernández travelled the next day to celebrate the victory together with Manzur and Jaldo.

In less celebratory mood was gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Bussi, representing Fuerza Republicana locally and libertarian Javier Milei’s La Libertad Avanza, nationally, who trailed runner-up Roberto Sánchez of Juntos por el Cambio by some 30 points with just 4.01 percent of the vote.

Bussi, the son of the notoriously repressive 1976-1983 military dictatorship governor Antonio Domingo Bussi, thereby followed the trend of recent provincial elections, in which candidates with Milei’s endorsement have failed to capitalise on his national popularity and win his backers at the ballot box.

Despite a generally disappointing run for Milei thus far, Bussi disassociated the libertarian deputy from the "surprising" failure, which he had "in no way" expected in a poverty-stricken province "devastated" by Peronism, while insisting Milei "will win here and nationwide" in the PASO primaries. 

The far-right politician blamed an "absolutely fraudulent" electoral system including acoples (collector lists) and cash payments to voters for the adverse result. 



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