Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in Formosa and Chaco, Patricia Bullrich and Radical leader Alfredo Cornejo in Mendoza, Martín Lousteau in Córdoba and Elisa Carrió in Neuquén. Juntos por el Cambio has begun nationalising its campaign ahead of the November midterms, seeking to condition the government in Congress while with an eye on its own power structure and the road to 2023.
Argentina’s main opposition coalition is seeking to repeat or improve on its performance in September’s PASO primaries, above all prioritising the capture of five seats in the Senate in order to strip Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of quorum. With this objective in mind, Juntos por el Cambio’s main leaders toured the country last weekend, supporting local candidates who are allowing them to dream about winning in historically Peronist provinces.
Within this framework, in general terms, and after all quantitative and qualitative studies, the coalition’s three parties – PRO, the UCR and the Civic Coalition – have identified a common denominator among the electorate: everyone is 'fed up.' In particular because of the lack of jobs, the lack of classes in schools, the educational emergency and a "deep sense of anguish." One of the consultants working with the opposition coalition has dubbed it "post-war syndrome."
In line with this thinking, the "basta" ("enough!") slogan adopted by the opposition for the PASO campaign will now be complemented “with proposals,” with a focus on allowing the electorate to look to hope and the future. "The issues that concern the electorate are national," one of the Juntos por el Cambio’s founders told Perfil.
This is what Rodríguez Larreta experienced yesterday during his visit to Resistencia in Chaco Province. While walking on the streets, the Buenos Aires City mayor was met by a wave of people, making his walkabout considerably more difficult. Something similar happened in the provincial capital of Formosa, where some 200 people swamped the streets seeking selfies. Both provinces are historically dominated by Peronism.
The City mayor’s advisors were astonished. Among them, PRO Secretary General Eduardo Macchiavelli: "We are the only force with the sufficient number of deputies to put a brake on Kirchnerismo,” he said in the land of eternal Governor Gildo Insfrán.
The following day, Rodríguez Larreta headed to Salta and Tucumán. The opposition’s nationalisation of its campaign also includes a local chapter: in Chubut, Chaco and Formosa there will also be speeches against the incumbent Peronist governors. In the first two regions, Juntos por el Cambio won in the PASO.
The biggest battle will be in the upper house. "From the three parties, we have proposed putting a lot of focus on the election of senators," Cornejo, UCR head and senatorial candidate for Mendoza, told Perfil. "The Senate is key because it is led by the government, by Cristina [Fernández de] Kirchner. It would be the first time that the PJ will not have its own majority in the Senate," he added.
For her part, PRO party leader Patricia Bullrich concurs: "We are going for the campaign for the five senators at the national level in order to remove Cristina's quorum. And that generates a new campaign with a new push."
This week, a number of candidates posted a two-minute video online, in which the candidates from “winnable” provinces make their case. In addition to Mendoza, Corrientes and Córdoba – where an opposition victory is expected – there are three more in the fight.
One of them is Santa Fe, with Carolina Losada, the big surprise of the PASO, battling for victory. Another is Chubut, where out of the three lists, a young 33-year-old PRO candidate named Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Torres won. The PJ had been winning in the Patagonian province for many years.
The third is La Pampa, where Peronism also dominates the polls. Chubut and La Pampa posted a minimal vote difference in the primaries: in the former, Kirchnerism can turn the result around, with just 18,000 votes; in the latter, the difference is just 11,000 voters.
Another chapter has to do with the lower house Chamber of Deputies. There exists the possibility of grabbing the presidency, which is currently in the hands of Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa. It was Elisa Carrió, supported by María Eugenia Vidal and Bullrich representing JxC’s "hawks" who pushed the idea, but among the UCR’s leaders they remain unconvinced. Just in case, the ruling party has been pushing out videos of the years when Emilio Monzó – who will return to Congress on a Buenos Aires slate – won the presidency during the Cambiemos government with the backing of Kirchnerism.
The national tours are set to continue. Last week Cornejo was in Tucumán, while the week before yesterday he was with Rodríguez Larreta and Lousteau in Córdoba. On Tuesday, he will be in Santa Fe to present Losada’s candidacy and the Radical’s choice for national deputy, Mario Barletta, for national deputy. On Thursday Cornejo will be in Chubut with Bullrich to support ‘Nacho’ Torres.
The PRO president will be busy: she plans to be in La Pampa next week while the City mayor is set to visit Tucumán. A trip is also planned to Corrientes, where Radical Governor Gustavo Valdés claimed victory over Frente de Todos.
Meanwhile, ‘Lilita’ Carrió and the president of the Civic Coalition, Maximiliano Ferraro, are also set to continue touring the country. This week they were in Neuquén, where JxC is curiously divided.
For her part, Vidal dreams of surpassing 50 percent with one objective: to prevent Kirchnerite lawmaker Carlos Heller from renewing his seat and for that place to go to the Conicet researcher Sandra Pitta, who comes from the list headed by Ricardo López Murphy.