Former Economy minister Roberto Lavagna broke his silence on Tuesday after months of speculation about his intentions to run for the presidency against Mauricio Macri in October.
Lavagna said he would define his candidacy mid year but warned he would not compete in a primaries race against fellow Peronist who operate within the formal PJ Party structure. He instead would prefer a consensus ticket, he said.
“I have no intention to compete in the PJ’s primaries,” Lavagna told FM Millennium’s Claro y Sencillo programme. His comments throw cold water over some people’s hopes of a truly united Peronist front against Macri. Lavagna remains well placed as a consensus figure in a staunchly divided political movement, Peronism, which arguably remains the country's most powerful.
“I believe this year is decisive because we are choosing a new government for the next four years; we’ve come from two governments which have failed: the previous one and the current one, particularly in relation to the population’s wellbeing”, he said. “The risk is that in October, us citizens will have to choose again between much of the same”, the 76-year-old said.
Lavagna pointed to social and political “consensus” as a key factor ensuring Argentina could stick to a concrete policy programme into the future.
“A consensus that permits us to break from this constant pendulum between two extremes: on the one hand, marketeers and the other, pseudo-ideological, neither of which has provided concrete results”, he charged.
Indirectly taking aim at Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Lavagna’s comments align with Peronist minority leader in the Senate Miguel Angel Pichetto’s who last week signalled out the former head of state as totally incompatible with his vision of an alliance. Most Peronists are split over the movement's election strategy on the basis that some want Fernandez de Kirchner in, and other want her out.
Lavagna warned that a primaries contest among Peronists would be “counterproductive” in building a broad alliance and called for unity beyond Peronism, including “parts of Peronism, Radicalism, progressive sectors like socialism, small provincial parties, MID, as well as sector of the PRO.
“Not everyone thinks the same within in the PRO”, he said, of the Mauricio Macri’s party.
He took aim at recent Peronist history, saying he had always “defended” the movement but “practically speaking” its time in office in the last few decades had been inconsistent with its core “philosophies”.
Lavagna was, until recently, aligned closely with dissident Peronist Sergio Massa. On Tuesday, he said the pair had differences about electoral strategy.
“He imagines an alliance linked to one sector of Peronism, I imagine one that is broader”, he said.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Several Peronist leaders have long expressed their interest in running for the presidency but insiders say some, like Massa, would be willing to put their ambitions on hold in favour of a Lavagna victory.
Lavagna ran for president in 2007, placing third behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Elisa Carrió. He secured over three million votes, or 16.91 percent, and secured the most votes in a key electoral battleground, Córdoba province.
Among other links to Argentina's Executive branch, Lavagna was economy minister under former president Néstor Kirchner, from 2002 to 2005; Argentina’s ambassador to the United Nations, from 2000 to 2002; and former president Raúl Alfonsín’s Industry and Foreign Trade Secretary from 1985 to 1987.