The governors of Tierra del Fuego, La Pampa and Salta secured re-election in their home provinces on Sunday, extending their terms in office for another four years.
Elsewhere, the ruling coalition in San Juan, headed by Governor Sergio Uñac, won mayoral votes in 15 of the province's 19 departments, despite the fact that the vote to renew the executive branch did not take place after the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the vote on the grounds that Uñac’s candidacy could be unconstitutional.
The results follow in the footsteps of provincial ballots in Río Negro, Misiones, Jujuy and La Rioja, underlining a trend in which ruling parties have secured elections in the majority of ballots with Neuquén the only exception.
The national government celebrated the victories and there were messages of congratulations for the successful candidates from President Alberto Fernández, Economy Minister Sergio Massa and Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro, among others.
The results serve as a welcome tonic for the ruling Frente de Todos coalition after a tough week in which the release of April’s inflation figure of 8.4 percent had piled pressure on Fernández’s government.
Salta was the first region to announce its results on Sunday, thanks in part to the rapid count of an electronic vote. Governor Gustavo Sáenz coasted to re-election with a lead of more than 30 points over Juntos por el Cambio’s candidate, Miguel Nanni of the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), one of the coalition’s three main parties.
With 100 percent of votes tallied, Sáenz had 44 percent of the vote compared to Nanni’s 21.6 percent.
In third was Emiliano Estradada, a previous Sáenz ally who broke off to present himself as a candidate on a ticket for Frente Avancemos, a group combining Kirchnerites aligned with De Pedro and several local opposition groupings, including supporters of outspoken libertarian leader Javier Milei.
Sáenz, a former running-mate of Massa, national senator and mayor of Salta City, said he was “happy, excited and pleased” to have won the support of voters after “three difficult years in every sense.”
He highlighted that "the governments of the north have no choice but to have a good relationship with the presidents,” underlining his anti-grieta credentials by observing that he had incorporated politicians from “PRO, Peronists and Radicals” into his Cabinet.
Moving to the centre of the country, electoral authorities in La Pampa confirmed on Sunday night that Sergio Ziliotto had won re-election for the Frente Justicialista Pampeano (Frejupa, Peronist), seeing off Juntos por el Camibo’s UCR candidate Martín Berhongaray in the closest gubernatorial race of the day.
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Ziliotto – accompanied on the ticket by provincial deputy Alicia Mayoral – had 47.63 percent against 42.07 percent for Berhongaray and his running-mate, former UCR provincial deputy Patricia Testa.
Comunidad Organizada candidate Juan Carlos Tierno came third with 7.3 percent, while Luciano González took 1.5 percent for the Frente de Izquierda de los Trabajadores-Unidad (FIT-U).
President Alberto Fernández travelled to the region on Monday to celebrate the victory, while Zilotto called for changes in the ruling coalition and to prioritise “unity” over personal ambitions.
"It is a source of pride to know that La Pampa has elected you again, Sergio Ziliotto! I know that you will continue to work tirelessly for the people of La Pampa as you have done so far,” said the president in a post on social media.
Zilotto, known locally as 'El Ruso' and born in General Pico, is a veteran of Pampean politics and experienced political operator. His victory secures a 10th consecutive term in office for the Patrido Justicialista (PJ, Peronist), which has governed the province since the return of democracy in 1983.
Tierra del Fuego
Meanwhile, at the bottom end of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego Governor Gustavo Melella (Unidos Hacemos Futuro) also benefitted from the decision to split the local and national elections, obtaining more than 50 percent of the vote and avoiding a second-round run-off.
With 100 percent of polling stations reported, the Kirchnerite leader of Radical origin had secured 51.3 percent of votes, easily seeing off the challenge of PRO deputy Héctor ‘Tito’ Stefani, who took just over 11 percent.
Nevertheless, more than 20 percent of votes cast were blank, underlining frustration with Argentina’s economic turmoil, runaway inflation and political class.
Republicanos Unidos candidate Laura Andrea Almirón de Pauli, an evangelical preacher associated with the aforementioned Milei, took 7.5 percent, with Radical Senator Pablo Daniel Blano, the official candidate of Juntos por el Cambio opposition, trailing on 5.6 percent. Left-winger Lucia Zulma Fernández (FIT-U) took three percent.
Both Almirón and Fernández alleged irregularities in the election, claiming that ballots had been stolen.
"I thank those who exercised their right to express themselves at the polls and those who worked to safeguard our democracy. Congratulations to the people of Tierra del Fuego for this great day of freedom and democracy," Melella wrote on his social networks as voting closed.
Once victory was confirmed, the candidate called on Argentina's ruling coalition to "stop fooling around" and settle on a "unity candidate" for October's presidential ballot. Unsurprisingly, he said that Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner should run for elected office or else define the coalition's candidate.
Elections were also held in San Juan Province, where Peronist candidates won a host of local elections, securing control of authorities in 15 out of the region’s 19 departments in votes with a turnout of almost 70 percent.
There was, however, a notable victory for the Juntos por el Cambio in the city of San Juan, where Susana Laciar defeated incumbent Emiliano Baistrocchi in the mayoral race.
Running on the Unidos por San Juan ticket, Laciar will become the first woman to govern the provincial capital when she takes office.
The gubernatorial ballot – in which Governor Sergio Uñac hoped to secure a third consecutive term – did not take place following last week’s controversial Supreme Court ruling to suspend the ballot.
Opposition candidates have challenged Uñac’s run for office on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.