Argentina’s deadline for registering candidates for the August 13 PASO primaries duly expired at midnight Saturday and there was a dramatic U-turn in the government’s presidential ticket: a scenario of Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro and outgoing Tucumán Governor Juan Manzur (expressing the definition of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) squaring off against the challenge of the 2015 standard-bearer Daniel Scioli representing President Alberto Fernández with as many as four other presidential hopefuls lurking in the background was suddenly replaced by a Unión por la Patria unity ticket of Interior Minister Sergio Massa and Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi after strenuous negotiations.
Nevertheless, the unity was not total because social leader Juan Grabois – who had stepped back as soon as the candidacy of De Pedro was announced – resumed his bid with Paula Abel Medina as his running-mate. In typically provocative style, the outspoken social leader delivered his papers to the electoral authorities with the help of a cartonero.
Shut out of the presidential nomination, Kirchnerism thus shifted its focus to Buenos Aires Province where Governor Axel Kicillof’s bid for re-election was confirmed – De Pedro will be the leading senatorial candidate while Máximo Kirchner will head a Congress list with no less than 11 of the 15 top candidates like-minded although also including Social Development Minister Victoria Tolosa Paz (Scioli’s erstwhile gubernatorial hopeful) and Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero.
In another key race, there will be a single Unión por la Patria mayoral hopeful in Buenos Aires City in the form of deputy Leandro Santoro, with Sports & Tourism Minister Matías Lammens heading the slate for the City Legislature and three ultra-Kirchnerites claiming the top three spots for the national Congress.
JUNTOS POR EL CAMBIO
Opposition nominations were dominated by the presidential tussle between ex-security minister Patricia Bullrich and City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who respectively confirmed their running-mates as Mendoza Radical ex-deputy Luis Petri and outgoing Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales in the build-up to Saturday’s deadline. Neurosurgeon Facundo Manes insisted on a Radical alternative to the two PRO politicians until the last minute when he backed down for lack of support.
In Buenos Aires Province, former City Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli seconded by San Isidro Mayor Gustavo Posse will be Rodríguez Larreta’s man to challenge Kicillof, while Bullrich’s duo will be mayors Néstor Grindetti (Lanús) and Miguel Fernández (Trenque Lauquen).
The leading senatorial candidates for Bullrich and Rodríguez Larreta will be respectively Radical provincial party chairman Maximiliano Abad and libertarian deputy José Luis Espert, with PRO deputy Cristian Ritondo and Peronist Republican leader Miguel Angel Pichetto their Congress counterparts.
Unlike in Buenos Aires Province, there will only be one PRO mayoral candidate in the City – Jorge Macri – but he will be challenged within Juntos por el Cambio by Radical Senator Martín Lousteau. Bullrich and Rodríguez Larreta will, however, be presenting rival lists for Congress (both topped by a Maximiliano – the former ballet dancer Guerra and Coalición Civica chairman Ferraro respectively) and also for the City legislature. Meanwhile, Coalición Civica founder Elisa Carrió has been sidelined to Parlasur.
Javier Milei had already picked fellow-deputy Victoria Villaruel as his running-mate in mid-May so no surprises there. Ramiro Marra had also been named early as La Libertad Avanza’s mayoral candidate in the first week of June but deputy Carolina Píparo was a last-minute choice as Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial candidate. At legislative level all Milei’s lists were headed by economist colleagues – Diana Mondino and Alberto Benegas Lynch III for Congress in Buenos Aires City and Province respectively and José Ignacio Nápoli for the Senate in Buenos Aires Province.
The Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores-Unidad (FIT-U) have failed to live up to their name with two leftist lists outside the fold. The FIT-U primary will be contested by a mainstream presidential ticket of deputies Myriam Bregman and Nicolás del Caño opposed by Gabriel Solano of the Trotskyist Partido Obrero (PO) and Vilma Ripoll of the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST). Beyond this primary both Nuevo MAS (2019 presidential hopeful Manuela Castañeira and Neuquén teacher Lucas Ruiz) and Política Obrera (Trotksyists true to PO founder Jorge Altamira) under Marcelo Ramal and Patricia Urones will be competing for far left votes.
Three other lists complete the dozen presidential candidacies registered last Saturday, of which by far the most important is the Hacemos por Nuestro País slate of non-Kirchnerite Peronists featuring a presidential ticket of outgoing Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti and ex-minister Florencio Randazzo.
Principio y Valores is a fringe Peronist grouping whose presidential bid is mounted by former Domestic Trade secretary Guillermo Moreno (running-mate Leonardo Fabré) with picket leader Luis d’Elía as Buenos Aires gubernatorial candidate. The list of presidential tickets is rounded out by Jesús Escobar, an engineer from Neuquén, and Marianella Lezama Hid, an accountant from Santiago del Estero, for the progressive Libres del Sur.