Monday, December 6, 2021
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ARGENTINA | 14-11-2021 08:57

Ten races to watch in Argentina’s midterm elections

Two issues will attract the most attention as Sunday night’s results come in: what happens in the provinces and whether Kirchnerismo loses quorum in the Senate. The results in Santa Fe, Chubut and La Pampa will be crucial.

Two issues will attract the most attention as the results start to roll in: what happens in a number of key provinces and whether the ruling coalition loses its quorum in the Senate. The results in Santa Fe, Chubut and La Pampa will be crucial. Formosa remains the opposition's dream.

Buenos Aires Province: The nation’s key battleground represents almost 40 percent national vote, so the election in the province of Buenos Aires has a transcendental impact nationwide. Diego Santilli arrives to voting day with the objective of retaining all the votes that he – and UCR candidate Facundo Manes – took in the PASO primaries, while perhaps widening the margin that Juntos won over Frente de Todos back in September. Peronist ticket headliner Victoria Tolosa Paz and the ruling coalition are looking to increase turnout in the neighbourhoods where they lost the most votes in relation to the 2019 election. There will be four other lists that are closely watched: Left-winger NIcolás del Caño (of the FIT) and José Luis Espert (Avanza Libertad) are fighting for third place and to add a couple of deputies each. Dissident Peronist Florencio Randazzo needs to improve to get into Congress, as does Más Valores candidate Cynthia Hotton.

Santa Fe Province: One of the key races that will shape the battle for the Senate. In the nation’s third-most important electoral district in the country (after Buenos Aires and Córdoba), Frente de Todos is looking to renew two seats and Juntos por el Cambio one. But if the results of the PASO are repeated, the roles would be reversed. For this, journalist Carolina Losada – who won the primary overcoming three other lists – will have to retain the votes of her Radical peers and Macri’s contenders. For the ruling party, journalist Marcelo Lewandowksi – who also scored a triumph in the primary against ex-defence minister Agustín Rossi – now has the momentum.

Chubut Province: One of the biggest surprises from the PASOs, Chubut is the province that will have the greatest impact on the future composition of the Senate. Frente de Todos has three senators there, due to the existing divisions within Peronism. In the primaries, Juntos por el Cambio registered a surprise and, thanks to its three competing lists, it surpassed two slates from the governing coalition. In third place was Federico Massoni, from Chubut Somos Todos, the party of Governor Mariano Arcioni, which is increasingly distant from the national government. If the results are repeated, Kirchnerism would lose two representatives, a key loss and blow to its aspirations to keep a minimum of 37 senators, which would allow it to manage the Senate without depending on allies.

La Pampa Province: The third province, in addition to Santa Fe and Chubut, that will decide the balance of power in the Senate. In the PASOs, the sum of the five opposition lists outperformed the ruling party by more than 10 points. The second place on the Frente de Todos ticket is filled by an advisor to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Here there are high expectations, because in 2017 Peronism already performed a similar electoral comeback.

Tucumán Province: The home turf of Cabinet Chief Juan Manzur, Frente de Todos faces the challenge of consolidating its votes obtained  in the PASOs. In the primaries, Peronism won by 13 points over Juntos por el Cambio, a difference that they are now trying not to have reduced. Manzur, despite his national role, travelled back home to attend closing campaign rallies.

Formosa Province. Governed by Gildo Insfrán since 1995, the province of Formosa has always been impassable territory for the opposition. However, the results that emerged from the PASO primaries have offered a glimmer of hope, as the two opposition lists combined would have ended in a virtual tie with Frente de Todos. For this reason, the ruling coalition negotiated to drop the second list and form an alliance at the provincial level. In any case, councillors will also be elected, so there is speculation that the structure will make its weight felt.

Córdoba Province. A region that has always been hostile to Kirchnerism, Córdoba became central in the final stretch of the campaign due to President Alberto Fernández's declarations that the province should "integrate" and "become part of Argentina." This is another of the districts in which the Frente de Todos is set to lose a senator, after Carlos Caserio came third in the PASOs. Some wonder whether he will now lose even more votes. Reflecting its national tactics, Juntos por el Cambio is betting on the consolidation of its position and on Alejandra Vigo, of Hacemos por Córdoba, coming in second.

Santa Cruz Province. Key Kirchnerite territory and always a symbolic card of weight for the opposition. In the PASOs, the six lists put up by Cambia Santa Cruz won by 12 points over Kirchnerismo, which ended up fighting for second place with a dissident Peronism list promoted by former governor Sergio Acevedo, with 26 percent against 23 percent. Three seats for deputy will be shared out, one for each party.

Santiago del Estero Province. The region draws extra attention as in this vote, the future provincial governor will also be elected, though Gerardo Zamora's re-election is not really at risk. In the PASO, without competition for local posts, the difference was 55 percent to 15 percent against the JxC list. Zamora's image was already on the ballot, as he is a substitute senator. In the opposition, Natalia Neme is running for governor and Facundo Pérez Carletti for deputy governor.

CABA (Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires). With only five lists left standing, the key fight will be in the distribution of the 13 seats up for grabs. The left seeks to break a long drought in the city. The Javier Milei factor will be a key focus for analysis, especially if it manages to grow his share of the vote and overcome Kirchnerism to claim second place. The challenge for ex-Buenos Aires Province governor María Eugenia Vidal, who tops the opposition’s list, is to surpass the 50 percent barrier.

Gabriel Ziblat

Gabriel Ziblat

Editor de Política - Diario Perfil.

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