History was made in Río Negro last Sunday after locals voted their first ever female governor into office by a landslide, as the Juntos Somos Río Negro candidate Arabela Carreras maintained a steady trend of provincial government continuity this year. But the PASO primaries in the neighbouring province of Chubut the same day promise a much closer race for its June 9 provincial elections, with a difference of little over one percent between the combined vote of the three Peronist hopefuls and incumbent Governor Mariano Arcioni.
The common denominator of the two races was the poor performance of President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition, represented in both cases by Radical deputies. Of the two, Río Negro’s Lorena Matzen fared the worse, reduced to a single-digit percentage by the highly polarised race between Carreras and General Roca Peronist Mayor Martín Soria, but expectations were higher for Chubut’s Gustavo Menna – given the three-way Peronist split, he was presumed assured of second place at least with an outside chance of challenging Arcioni.
Despite these dismal performances the national government was more inclined to celebrate the frustration of Kirchnerism, since Soria had been expected to cash in on both an improvised provincial government candidate (with outgoing Governor Alberto Weretilneck barred by the Supreme Court only a fortnight previously) and mounting discontent with Macri’s economic policies. Menna blamed the “national economic context” for his poor results.
The actual voting figures were as follows: in Río Negro, Carreras 52.5 percent, Soria 35.08 percent and Matzen 5.67 percent while three leftist lists polled almost five percent between them.
In Chubut’s PASO primary Arcioni (representing Chubut al Frente, the non-Kirchnerite Peronist movement founded by late Governor Mario Das Neves) polled 31.8 percent as against 33 percent or just over 100,000 votes for the Justicialist Party divided between three hopefuls (of which half or 16.6 percent accrued to Carlos Linares now clinching the Peronist gubernatorial candidacy, ahead of Gustavo MacKarthy with 12.8 percent while Héctor Burgoa trailed with 3.6 percent) and 14 percent for Menna finishing behind Linares. Among the remaining vote four leftist lists polled a total of 8.2 percent.