Argentina’s Peronist provincial governors have called for unified Frente de Todos tickets in the upcoming PASO primaries, ramping up tensions in the ruling coalition.
In statements issued after the governors met together at the Consejo Federal de Inversiones (Federal Investment Council, CFI in its Spanish acronym), the provincial leaders demanded the "construction of an integrated federal list of unity" as part of a nationwide strategy for Frente de Todos.
With several names in circulation within the ruling coalition and a concrete possibility of competitive PASO primaries if the leaders who have already declared their candidacies stand by their decisions, the plea of the governors is valid but with little chance of coming to pass.
Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli, the unsuccessful presidential candidate Din 2015, has said that his run for the highest office is "legitimate" and not negotiable, while Vice-President Cristina Fernández Kirchner has not yet indicated her preference – likely to be one of ministers Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro (Interior) and, Sergio Massa (Economy) and Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof, who for now is seeking re-election.
Social activist Juan Grabois has launched his candidacy but has already served notice that he would drop it if De Pedro runs, while the future of Cabinet chief Agustín Rossi, who has also announced presidential aspirations, remains an open question.
Fair and federal
"We have gathered with the aim of making our voice heard in favour of the construction of a fairer, more federal and democratic country. In the difficult socio-economic situation which our country is undergoing and in the framework of our institutional and political responsibilities, we are aware that we cannot distract our efforts in sterile discussions only leading to divisions," read a communiqué issued by the provincial leaders at the end of Wednesday’s conclave.
At that meeting they pushed three key points – first: "We require the construction of an integrated and federal list of unity"; second: "We propose participatory elaboration of a federal electoral strategy transcending the business cycle and summoning other political forces”; third, "Formation of a political action committee contributing to the construction of a government plan giving priority to development and social inclusión."
The governors of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Chubut, Entre Ríos, Formosa, La Pampa, La Rioja, Misiones, San Juan, Santa Cruz, Santiago del Estero and Tierra del Fuego all participated in the meeting.
At the close of the talks, Chaco’s Jorge Capitanich spoke to the press, outlining that the "first conclusion" at which the meeting arrived was to "require a list of unity and consensus within Frente de Todos."
He warned that there was not much time for signing and sealing agreements because the deadline for presenting electoral alliances expires on June 14 and for registering lists of candidates on June 24.
Finally, the Chaco leader echoed one aspect insistently emphasised by Fernández de Kirchner ahead of the elections, which has to do with the need to find consensus over a programme of government.
"A model was proposed for creating a methodology to elaborate a concrete government plan which is inclusive, federal and social in order to present a reliable and credible government in the framework of the new election," concluded Capitanich, who a while back had mentioned as a possible Frente de Todos presidential hopeful, an alternative which has been progressively fading.
Just a fortnight away from the presentation of the lists of candidates, the government still does not rule out the possibility of a key meeting of Frente de Todos leaders, potentially leaving the door open for a "single candidate" such as Massa if consensus is reached.
"If within the framework of consensus, the president is not against a single candidate. But we are not seeing that framework of consensus and without it, the only possible way is the PASO primary, " sources in President Alberto Fernández’s inner circle told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.