A shock victory in Buenos Aires Province and a stronger win than anticipated in the federal capital means that Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta has merged as the big winner of Sunday’s PASO primaries – despite the 55-year-old not even being on the ticket.
Diego Santilli and María Eugenia Vidal – the opposition’s two leading candidates – both performed strongly in their respective districts, boosting Rodríguez Larreta’s hopes of being the opposition coalition’s presidential candidate in 2023. As the icing on the cake, the City mayor even saw former president Mauricio Macri – a potential internal rival in two years time – back the wrong horse in the province of Córdoba, where Luis Juez defeated Mario Negri.
Drawing up a list of the biggest losers on Sunday night, unsurprisingly President Alberto Fernández tops the list, followed closely by Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who saw Peronist candidates defeated in both her home province of Santa Cruz and in the nation’s most populous region Buenos Aires, where Victoria Tolosa Paz failed to deliver. In Buenos Aires City, Leandro Santoro won fewer votes than anticipated in the PASO.
The government’s weak showing in Buenos Aires Province and defeat in most districts puts Frente de Todos’ congressional support in danger – the ruling coalition could lose several seats in November.
Another of the election’s losers, yet from outside the ruling coalition, was ex-interior minister and dissident Peronist Florencio Randazoo. Scoring under four percent and an uncomfortable fifth place, he has been relegated down the pecking order by the left and the rise of libertarianism in the nation’s most populous region.
By contrast, outspoken economist Javier Milei scored more than 11 percent of votes in the nation’s capital, coming in third and securing his Avanza Libertad front a likely seat in Congress come November.
Moving north, winners also emerged in Santa Fe Province, where Governor Omar Perotti won the internal Peronist battle with a victory over ex-defence minister Agustín Rossi, who resigned his post in order to run.
In Mendoza, meanwhile, Alfredo Cornejo and Julio Cobos were victorious in the race for senator and national deputy respectively.
The extent of the government’s defeat on Sunday night – it lost in 18 provinces (Buenos Aires, the Federal Capital, Chaco, Chubut, Corrientes, Córdoba, Entre Ríos, Jujuy, La Pampa, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, Salta, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, San Luis and Tierra del Fuego) – was stunning, but given its political importance and demographic density, the setback in Buenos Aires Province will generate the biggest impact.
The region, which had provided the Frente de Todos with a crucial win in its 2019 election victory, turned on Peronism and Kirchnerism, with the coalition losing in seven of eight key regions. It triumphed only in one section, the third (home to Avellaneda, Quilmes and La
Matanza), by a lead of eight points. When the two main coalitions had faced off last time out, Frente de Todos won by more than 30 points.
Defeat on Sunday night not only raises question marks about the government’s majority in the Senate and the strength of it bloc in the lower house – it also creates doubts over the national government’s future and the make-up of President Fernández’s Cabinet moving forward.