With the deadline for candidates for the the PASO primary elections to register fast approaching, the line-up is becoming more defined by the day: Roberto Lavagna has now confirmed that he will run for the presidency.
His announcement comes less than two days after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's bombshell announcement that she would run for the vice-presidency, seconding a ticket headed by Alberto Fernández, the former Cabinet chief who served in administrations headed by the former president and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner.
Clearing up any doubts in an interview with Infobae released today, Lavagna declared: "I'm a candidate for president. That's it. Then we'll see details."
He confirmed the news this afternoon, posting "Yes, I am a candidate for president" in an Instagram video, minutes after giving a talk at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Universidad del Salvador.
The ex-economy minister did not confirm whether he would run in the PASO primaries with the Alternativa Federal grouping, with which he is associated.
Lavagna, respected by both Peronists and the Radical Civic Union (UCR), is primarily remembered for having led the economy out of the 2001 implosion, transitioning from the government of Eduardo Duhalde to that of Néstor Kirchner. Having helped lay the economic foundations that Kirchner would later build upon, he left the government after a series of disagreements with the then-president, the last of which was accusing businessmen in the construction sector of collusion.
The Peronist leader said his platform would follow the same line as his earlier pronouncements, identifying himself as a "consensus" candidate. At 76, he will be one of Argentina's oldest presidential candidates.
"Our proposal is going to be that of consensus. We are going to stay out of both sides of la grieta, so that they do not take us to one side or the other," he told journalist Matías Falco.
"They – the Government and Cristina – are the grieta, we are the anti-grieta, as Schiaretti defined it the other day," he added, referring to the recently re-elected Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti, who called for Peronists to unite for the good of the republic.
Regarding the position of former ally Sergio Massa, who also wants to be a candidate courting the same set of voters, Lavagna did not rule out the possibility of a deeper rupture between the two.
"He will go with his presentation and we will see if it can continue together, or not," he said.
Quizzed about the 'Fernández-Fernández' ticket, announced over the weekend, Lavagna avoided passing major comment. Asked for his opinion about Alberto Fernández, Lavagna said "Their problem is not my concern," and stressed that he was seeking to lead a government of "national unity and consensus."
Supporters of Lavagna, an economist by trade, claim he has the technical capacity to guide the country’s economy through rough seas while also healing the wounds of more than a decade of social and political polarisation.
Among other links to Argentina's Executive branch, Lavagna served as economy minister under former president Néstor Kirchner, from 2002 to 2005; Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations, from 2000 to 2002; and former president Raúl Alfonsín’s Industry and Foreign Trade Secretary from 1985 to 1987.
Lavagna ran for president in 2007, placing third behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Elisa Carrió. He secured over three million votes, or 16.91 percent, and secured the most votes in a key electoral battleground, Córdoba province.
Leaders from the Alternativa Federal grouping are due to meet this Wednesday.