In a provincial PASO primary rocked by commotion generated by the disappearance and presumed femicide of missing 28-year-old Cecilia Strzyzowski, opposition candidates on Sunday performed strongly against the ruling party led by Governor Jorge Capitanich.
Although Capitanich won by a wide margin in his internal primary and was the most voted for ruling party candidate in the election, the combined tally of the two leading Juntos por el Cambio candidates surpassed the ballots cast for the ruling party.
With 96.1 percent of polling stations reporting, Juntos por el Cambio had taken 42.66 percent of the vote, with Capitanich’s Frente Chaqueño on 38.63 percent.
In the internal opposition race, gubernatorial candidates Leandro Zdero and his running-mate Silvana Schneider (Chaco Cambia) had 23.08 percent, compared to 19.58 percent for Juan Carlos Polini and Delfina Veiravé (Orden y Trabajo).
Capitanich took 36.46 percent, with his rival Ismael Espinoza claiming just 0.37 percent of votes.
Trailing behind was Corriente Expresión Renovada (CER por la libertad) candidate Gustavo Martínez on 8.87 percent.
The results put the province’s general elections – set for September 17 and in which Chaco’s Peronist governor will seek re-election – up for grabs.
Analysts had expected Strzyzowski’s disappearance, which investigators believe is linked to the powerful local Sena family deeply entwined with provincial politics, to influence voting in the primaries, but initial results showed Capitanich with a slight lead.
However, as results trickled in slowly, opposition candidates began to cut into his lead.
Speaking at a press conference held after polls closed, Capitanich said that "the elections took place in a completely normal way" and that "it was an exemplary democratic day."
Turnout for the primaries was low, at around 52 percent – the lowest for an election in which Capitanich has run and eight percent lower than for the PASO primaries in 2021.
Opposition leaders didn’t take long to hail the results, with Juntos por el Cambio presidential hopefuls Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich describing them as the sign of things to come.
"The people of Chaco gave a strong message at the polls: they want to recover peace and a government that is at their side," said Rodríguez Larreta. “The people of Chaco said ENOUGH to the model of impunity and privileges of Kirchnerism that has governed the province for 16 years. We are here to accompany them and change the province and the country forever.”
Bullrich shared a photo of herself with some of the opposition’s successful candidates and declared: "The strong commitment to the change we seek was felt throughout the province of Chaco.”
The primary was also notable for another poor performance for another La Libertad Avanza provincial candidate backed by national deputy and presidential hopeful Javier Milei.
TV presenter Alfredo ‘Capi’ Rodríguez only managed to bank 2.7 percent of the vote, coming in fifth.