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ARGENTINA | 06-09-2023 15:19

Argentina’s presidential candidates define rules of election debate

Negotiations are pressing on over the set-up of the traditional election debate for the presidential candidates; First face-off will take place on October 1 in Santiago del Estero, with the second set for October 8 at the UBA Faculty of Law.

The set-up of this year's presidential debates, to be held on October 1 in Santiago del Estero and on October 8 at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) Faculty of Law, is taking shape. 

Certainties are already in place – including the predisposition of the candidates towards agreement, following in the wake of the PASO primaries. Some questions remain, however, over the  selection of questions from the public, which will play a role in the exchange.

Those who know about the meetings emphasise that, unlike on other occasions when electoral contests produced a clear winner and in turn specific demands, this year’s PASO primaries produced a scenario of parity – as a result none of the main campaign teams have made complex requests. On the contrary, after the first meeting of the party representatives with the National Electoral Chamber, there was a predisposition to reach understandings.

A leader who attended the conclave told this newspaper that in principle there will be a period of opening remarks from all the candidates, with a minute of presentation. Talks are still needed to define the topics on which the candidates for head of state will speak, the duration of the presentations, the place each one will occupy onstage and how the exchanges will take place. One NGO, Argentinos por la Educación, has held meetings with the CNE electoral authorities to encourage the discussion of investment in education and the role of the national government in this area, initial literacy and teaching.

All the candidates have already agreed that citizens will be allowed to participate with questions, but there are doubts about implementation. One opposition leader warned that the selection of questions "cannot be left in the hands of the CNE's advisory council because it could be biased” towards one party. Future face-to-face meetings will involve discussions over the order of entry, the lectern for each candidate and the time for responses. A possible date for defining the rules of debate? September 12

For the time being, the leaders who are betting on succeeding Alberto Fernández as president are already putting their approach on show. Sergio Massa, for example, is going to criticise Javier Milei and show that the libertarian’s party is made up of the "political caste" he claims to criticise.

Milei, as this newspaper has learned, will respond with economic questioning of the ruling coalition and government and, as in past debates, will clash with left-winger Myriam Bregman, of the Frente de Izquierda y Trabajadores – Unidad. The candidate, for her part, will try to offer proposals and show why she is "different" from the rest of the participants, while Hacemos por Nuestra País leader Juan Schiaretti will try to strengthen an "anti-grieta and federal" profile.

Meanwhile, Patricia Bullrich will try to offer governability and point out that the leaders of Unión por la Patria and La Libertad Avanza "are the same" as each other, something she has repeated in recent appearances.

Juan Pablo Kavanagh

Juan Pablo Kavanagh

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