The defeat of Kirchnerism was overwhelming. It is difficult to find a Peronist defeat of that magnitude since 1983, especially when they’ve been in power. Will this result be reversible, come November?
Nationwide, Frente de Todos won 31.03 percent as against 40.02 percent for Juntos por el Cambio, all but a double-digit margin. In decisive Buenos Aires Province, the difference was less but still a clear and eloquent defeat – 33.64 percent for the government as against 37.99 percent, a margin of over four points.
This is not the first time Kirchnerism has lost Buenos Aires Province – in truth, it’s been something of a regular event this century, recurring in 2009, 2013 and 2017. But in the first two cases it won nationwide and also in 2017 when adding up all the sectors of a divided Peronism.
The defeat was logical enough. A critical socio-economic situation converged with steeply rising poverty and unemployment, the pandemic and the debatable efficiency of the government in facing it, the so-called ‘Olivos photo’ harming the presidential image in the immediate run-up to the election. But in Argentina, the logical does not always happen and a close-fought election both nationwide and in Buenos Aires Province was expected.
There are still two months to go before the midterms and between the two elections, many things can change. In 2017, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner won the PASO primary by a razor-thin margin of 0.2 percent and then lost the midterms by six points. In 2019, Macri lost the PASO by 16 points and then halved that difference to eight. These recent antecedents show that reversing a result is not impossible.
But the most important problem facing the government is its own internal conflict. That was already evident on PASO night. President Alberto Fernández showed up to “face up” to his defeat. Vice-President Cristina Kirchner was also there but did not speak. To recoup its losses, the first thing the government will have to do is to overcome that internal conflict which inevitably is already raging.
The need to overhaul the government’s team in order to attempt a relaunch is almost inevitable if they want to turn the situation around.
Reverting the result nationwide does not seem to enter into the realm of the possible. Changing the result in Buenos Aires Province seems difficult but not impossible, although until now the government leadership does not appear to have the necessary cohesion to attempt this tough task.