Martín Berhongaray will be the candidate for the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition in gubernatorial election in La Pampa after the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) hopeful saw off his PRO party rival in primaries last Sunday.
The Radical prevailed in the primary after defeating Martín Maquieyra, despite the latter being backed by the other parties in the opposition coalition.
With 99.61 percent of the precincts reporting in a low turnout, the Radical primary hopeful took 56.28 percent of the vote as against 43.72 percent for his internal rival.
The Radicals thus drew first blood in 2023 voting amid their tussle mainly with PRO for leadership of the opposition alliance.
“This election has gone beyond the frontiers of La Pampa because while important for Radicalism at the provincial level, it also was at national level - a warning shot for the party occupying the headlines within the coalition and national politics,” said the Radical Berhongaray (a national deputy since 2019, preceded by 12 years of a seat in the provincial legislature) in press statements soon after the trend in his favour had been confirmed.
“We’re assuming that this is the first step towards the major challenge facing us in May. It is comforting to have been accompanied by the militants and the people throughout the process, the product of very serious and correct work in recent years which may be seen reflected in various localities of La Pampa,” maintained the Juntos por el Cambio gubernatorial candidate.
After the Radicals bested PRO in the La Pampa Juntos por el Cambio primary, City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and PRO deputy María Eugenia Vidal congratulated Martín Berhongaray on his win. On May 14, the Radical candidate will be taking on Governor Sergio Ziliotto going for a second term.,
Backed by Radical heavyweights Gerardo Morales, Martín Lousteau and Facundo Manes, Berhongaray took 56.28 percent of the votes over 43.72 percent for Maquieyra, backed by ex-president Mauricio Macri, Vidal and Rodríguez Larreta, in a low turnout of 12 percent of the provincial electorate.
In Berhongaray’s eyes the victory responded to “the Radical need for a protagonistic role” within the opposition coalition. At noon last Sunday while casting his vote, he had said that his win would be a pick-me-up at national level for the Radicals.
Over and above PRO’s man ending up defeated, the City Mayor congratulated Berhongaray, making clear his stance of teaming up to dispute the governorship with Ziliotto by posting: “Congratulations to Martín Berhongaray for the Juntos Por el Cambio (primary) victory in La Pampa and to Martin Maquieyra for showing that with commitment and hard work the first step towards constructing change can be taken. Now let’s all work together to transform the province!”
Of the six lists presented, Juntos por el Cambio was the only one internally defining its candidacies, thus converting it into the main centre of attention in last Sunday’s voting.
The Frente Justicialista Pampeano (FreJuPa), will go to the general provincial elections next May 14 with a single list under the current Governor Sergio Ziliotto and with a slate of provincial deputies headed by Alicia Mayoral.
The main national leaders of the opposition coalition followed this election very closely, the first of several provincial battles in which the various factions of the alliance will be facing off in the ballot-boxes amid internal tensions and problems with the order of electoral lists which are impossible to hide.
Berhongaray, a national deputy from 2019 and provincial legislator in the previous 12 years, was backed by the entire Radical party machine at both national and provincial level ranging from UCR party chairman Gerardo Morales through caucus chief Mario Negri and the Radical governors to the deputy Facundo Manes and Senator Lousteau.
Maquieyra was accompanied by the other national figures of Juntos por el Cambio: Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Patricia Bullrich, María Eugenia Vidal, Mauricio Macri and Elisa Carrió (Coalición Cívica ARI).
Martín Lousteau travelled to the provincial capital of Santa Rosa to accompany Berhongaray in his victory while the other leading Radicals communicated by telephone to congratulate him.
A euphoric Gerardo Morales recorded an audio which he released to the press, highlighting the Radical victory over PRO in this first electoral challenge of the 2023 calendar.
“The Radical victory in La Pampa headed by the Martín Berhongaray-Patricia Testa ticket shows that when Radicalism is united and when it works with a responsible vision for the province and country and with Radical principles and values, it will be receive the support of the people,” the audio expressed.
For the Jujuy governor, “this triumph of Radicalism over a PRO leader reaffirms the path of unity for Juntos por el Cambio.”
La Pampa is one of many Peronist provinces which has decided to separate its local voting from the national elections.
The voting unfolded normally in 777 booths located in 165 schools with some 293,800 La Pampa citizens enfranchised.
It was the first time La Pampa has voted with provincial law 3259 guaranteeing gender parity in candidacies in force.