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ARGENTINA | 18-09-2023 14:34

Juntos por el Cambio dethrones Jorge Capitanich in Chaco

Sixteen years of Kirchnerite rule in Chaco comes to an end; Leandro Zdero elected new governor, scoring 46.13% in first round victory; Provincial strongman Jorge Capitanich ejected from office, months after presumed murder of Cecilia Strzyzowski.

Argentina’s main opposition coalition scored a morale-boosting victory in elections in Chaco on Sunday, ending 16 years of Kirchnerite rule in the northern province.

Juntos por el Cambio candidate Leandro Zdero was elected governor with 46.13 percent of the vote, passing the threshold to win the vote in the first round and defeating incumbent Jorge Capitanich, of Frente Chaqueño.

With 99.83 percent of votes counted, Governor Capitanich had 41.71 percent. Behind him were Gustavo Martínez (Corriente de Expresión Renovada) with five percent; Alfredo Rodríguez (La Libertad Avanza) with 3.43 percent; Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff (Frente Integrador) with 2.14%; Rubén Galassi (Libertarios en Acción) with 0.84 percent; and Germán Báez (Patrido del Obrero) with 0.72 percent.

The result is a major boon for the opposition coalition and its presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich, who is lagging in the polls behind libertarian frontrunner Javier Milei.

"What an enormous joy the people of Chaco have given us! I want to congratulate them for the great step they took today to free their province from Kirchnerism. The battle you fought is historic," said the PRO party leader in a post on social media.

The presidential candidate was in the province to celebrate the results with Zdero onstage at the opposition’s bunker in Resistencia.

A little after 9.30pm on Sunday night, Capitanich admitted defeat in his bid for re-election.

"I communicated with the governor-elect, Leonardo Zdero, to whom I wished the necessary success from December 10, 2023, because he has been elected by the will of the people. He can count on us for an orderly transition as befits democratic institutions,” he said onstage.

Challenging opposition criticism of his administration, the Kirchnerite leader said Chaco “is not a fiefdom, it is a democratic state, a republican and representative system of government, where institutions are respected and the will of the people is respected.”

 

Impact of presumed femicide

The defeat caps off an awful few months for Capitanich, who has dominated provincial politics since 2007. His re-election hopes were seriously damaged by the disappearance and presumed femicide of a 28-year-old woman back in June. 

Cecilia Strzyzowski was last seen entering the family home of her former partner, César Sena, on June 2. Her husband is currently under arrest for her alleged murder, accused of being the perpetrator of the crime. The young man's parents, picket leader Emerenciano Sena and social leader Marcela Acuña, have been charged as “necessary” participants in the crime

Both Sena and Acuña are powerful political operators in the province who are historically linked to Capitanich. The governor sought to distance himself from them once news of Strzyzowski’s disappearance emerged, but for some voters – thousands of whom have taken to the streets to demand justice in the case – it has been the final straw.

A key minister in Capitanich's cabinet, Juan Manuel Chapo, admitted on Sunday night that the incident had damaged the ruling coalition’s chances of continuing in office. 

"It has certainly had an impact, it is undeniable," he responded when asked about the case and its electoral repercussions by reporters.

Capitanich, a former national senator and ex-Cabinet chief under former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, defended his record in office on Sunday night.

"It’s been many years of service, 22 years of service to our people of Chaco in different representations, for which I have felt an enormous pride, an identification with my people in the defence of their interests and in the construction of a more federal country,” he declared.

 

‘Repairing the province’

Minutes after the concession, Zdero went onstage at his party’s bunker to bask in the glow of victory. Thanking his campaign team, Bullrich and chaqueños for their support, he vowed to get to work immediately.

"We have the challenge of repairing the province so that the people of Chaco can live well," declared the Unión Cívica Radical leader. “We are embarking on this path as of tomorrow. We have the conviction to do the things that need to be done, with courage, with firmness, in the province of Chaco and we will do it with everyone," he concluded.

Opposition leaders, including many fellow UCR members, rushed to congratulate Zdero.

"Congratulations to @LeandroZdero, governor-elect of Chaco. A Radical leader returns to govern the province. We know of your and your team's commitment to the people of Chaco and to the change that the province needs,” said Senator Martín Lousteau (UCR). 

Former president Mauricio Macri said he was "proud of the message of change that the people of Chaco delivered with strength and conviction.”

"A new stage and a new opportunity for the province is beginning. Congratulations to Governor-elect Leandro Zdero! And I trust that with Patricia we will bring change to the whole country," he wrote on social media.

President Alberto Fernández also dedicated a message to the election on the X social network, sending his commiserations to Capitanich, congratulating Zdero and wishing a "prosperous future for Chaco."

 

– TIMES/NA

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