It is impossible to have a dialogue today with any of the ruling coalition’s leaders without the words "round table" or "institutionalisation" coming up. Inside Frente de Todos, It is an old controversy, one which started when the government began to fracture after last year's electoral defeat. Now, the controversy has been reignited. Alberto Fernández has taken a first step, but Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is still waiting.
It is an old fight. It has been three months since Argentina’s president and vice-president last spoke, and in the midst of the never-ending radio silence, a proposal to overcome the quagmire has been gaining ground. Some are proposing a roundtable be formed, real or metaphorical, at which the coalition’s founding partners – including Congress Speaker Sergio Massa – or their representatives can sit down and decide the government’s future direction.
Several leaders in the Kirchnerite camp have been calling for such a proposal for some time (“If he called me, I’ll listen to him,” Cristina tells her closest allies), but until now, Alberto has remained inflexible. “He thinks that if he constitutes it, he will lose power. That they want to condition him through the roundtable," says one of his supporters.
But last Saturday, an event took place that went initially unnoticed. The president joined a event in Chaco organised by provincial governor Jorge Capitanich, who is already on record as having expressed his desire to compete in next year's PASO primaries. Moreover, ‘Coqui’ is in the spotlight for another reason: almost a month ago, Fernández de Kirchner made her last public appearance in the same region, delivering a speech that once again stirred up internal debate.
Is it a coincidence that both Alberto and Cristina chose the very same place to make an appearance? Several in the ruling party, from both main sectors, now believe that Capitanich is now serving as a channel between the two sides of the rift within the rift.
In the green room, backstage at the event, Capitanich told Alberto about his model: a roundtable where the representatives of the 30 or so local parties that make up his regional front, Frente en Chaco, sit and communicate, where he participates – and where he has the last word. The president, true to his traditional style, did not say no or yes.
Will Alberto now make a move in that direction? "Alberto does not want to go back to the bilateral [meetings] with Cristina, to the ‘mano a mano.’ He doesn't want that with Máximo either, Alberto feels betrayed,” says a close friend of the president.
“But I think there is a chance that there will be such a roundtable with representatives,” they add.