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ARGENTINA | 01-07-2023 06:56

Candidates for Argentina's 2023 PASO primaries confirmed

Unión por la Patria, Juntos por el Cambio and Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores-Unidad will have competitive primaries; Milei faces no competition for La Libertad Avanza with several smaller parties seeking to clear the 1.5 percent PASO threshold.

Argentina’s deadline for registering candidates for the August 13 PASO primaries duly expired at midnight last Saturday and a dramatic U-turn in the government’s presidential ticket stole the show. 

In all, 13 presidential tickets from 10 coalitions were submitted to the National Electoral Chamber. Beyond their respective internal rivals, tickets must surpass a threshold of 1.5 percent of the vote to qualify for the main ballot. 

Argentina’s primary elections serve as a de facto national poll prior to the presidential election, which will take place on October 22, with a possible second round run-off on November 19.

Voting in the primaries is compulsory though no-shows are not often punished. The PASOs will also determine the legislative candidates for Congress, which will be partially renewed. 
 

UNIÓN POR LA PATRIA

After strenuous negotiations, it was announced that Economy Minister Sergio Massa would head a “unity” ticket for the ruling coalition. Up until then, a scenario of Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ de Pedro and outgoing Tucumán Governor Juan Manzur (expressing the definition of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) squaring off against the challenge of the 2015 standard-bearer Daniel Scioli (representing President Alberto Fernández), with as many as four other presidential hopefuls lurking in the background, looked to be on the cards. But late Friday, news flooded out that Unión por la Patria was opting for a single ticket led by Massa and seconded by Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi.

Nevertheless, the unity was not total because Juan Grabois – the combative social leader and activist who had stepped back as soon as the candidacy of De Pedro was announced – resumed his bid with Paula Abal Medina as his running-mate. In typically provocative style, the outspoken social leader delivered his papers to the electoral authorities with the help of a cartonero.

The ruling coalition will therefore have a competitive primary, but not too competitive. 

Shut out of the presidential nomination, Kirchnerism thus shifted its focus to Buenos Aires Province where Governor Axel Kicillof’s bid for re-election was confirmed – De Pedro will be the leading senatorial candidate while Máximo Kirchner will head a Congress list with no less than 11 of the 15 top candidates like-minded. It won’t all go their way – Social Development Minister Victoria Tolosa Paz (Scioli’s erstwhile gubernatorial hopeful and a focus of public criticism from Fernández de Kirchner) and Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero will also join the slate. 

In another key race, there will be a single Unión por la Patria mayoral hopeful in Buenos Aires City in the form of deputy Leandro Santoro. Sports & Tourism Minister Matías Lammens will head the slate for the City Legislature and three ultra-Kirchnerites claim the top three spots for the national Congress.

 

JUNTOS POR EL CAMBIO

Opposition nominations were dominated by the presidential tussle between former security minister Patricia Bullrich and Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who respectively confirmed their running-mates as Mendoza Radical ex-deputy Luis Petri and outgoing Jujuy Radical Governor Gerardo Morales in the build-up to Saturday’s deadline. Neurosurgeon Facundo Manes insisted on a Radical alternative to the two PRO politicians until the last minute when he backed down for lack of support.

In Buenos Aires Province, former City Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli seconded by San Isidro Mayor Gustavo Posse will be Rodríguez Larreta’s man to challenge Kicillof, while Bullrich’s duo will be mayors Néstor Grindetti (Lanús) and Miguel Fernández (Trenque Lauquen). 

The leading senatorial candidates for Bullrich and Rodríguez Larreta will be respectively Radical provincial party chairman Maximiliano Abad and libertarian deputy José Luis Espert, with PRO deputy Cristian Ritondo and Peronist Republican leader Miguel Angel Pichetto their Congress counterparts.

Unlike in Buenos Aires Province, there will only be one PRO mayoral candidate in the City – Jorge Macri – but he will be challenged within Juntos por el Cambio by Radical Senator Martín Lousteau. Bullrich and Rodríguez Larreta will, however, be presenting rival lists for Congress (both topped by a Maximiliano – the former ballet dancer Guerra and Coalición Civica chairman Ferraro respectively) and also for the City legislature. Meanwhile, Coalición Civica founder Elisa Carrió has been sidelined to Parlasur.      

 

LIBERTARIANS

Javier Milei had already picked fellow-deputy Victoria Villaruel as his running-mate in mid-May so no surprises there. Ramiro Marra had also been named early as La Libertad Avanza’s mayoral candidate in the first week of June but deputy Carolina Píparo was a last-minute choice as Buenos Aires Province gubernatorial candidate. At legislative level all Milei’s lists were headed by economist colleagues – Diana Mondino and Alberto Benegas Lynch III for Congress in Buenos Aires City and Province respectively and José Ignacio Nápoli for the Senate in Buenos Aires Province.

Milei’s space confirmed that lists of primary candidates for national deputies would be presented in 23 districts across the country.

 

LEFTISTS

The Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores-Unidad (FIT-U) have failed to live up to their name with two leftist lists outside the fold. 

The FIT-U primary will be contested by a mainstream presidential ticket of deputies Myriam Bregman and Nicolás del Caño opposed by Gabriel Solano of the Trotskyist Partido Obrero (PO) and Vilma Ripoll of the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST). 

Beyond this primary both Nuevo MAS, led by 2019 presidential hopeful Manuela Castañeira and Neuquén teacher Lucas Ruiz, and Política Obrera (Trotksyists true to PO founder Jorge Altamira) under Marcelo Ramal and Patricia Urones will be competing for far left votes.

 

OTHERS

Three other lists complete the dozen presidential candidacies registered last Saturday, of which by far the most important is the Hacemos por Nuestro País slate of non-Kirchnerite Peronists featuring a presidential ticket of outgoing Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti and ex-minister Florencio Randazzo. 

Speculation remains that the grouping may work with Juntos por el Cambio post-election supporting a series of public policy agreements.

Principio y Valores is a fringe Peronist grouping whose presidential bid is mounted by former Domestic Trade secretary Guillermo Moreno (running-mate Leonardo Fabré) with picket leader Luis d’Elía as Buenos Aires gubernatorial candidate. 

The list of presidential tickets is extended by Jesús Escobar, an engineer from Neuquén, and Marianella Lezama Hid, an accountant from Santiago del Estero, for the progressive Libres del Sur. The party will also run in votes for Buenos Aires City, Buenos Aires Province and the Parlasur legislature.

Finally, the far-right Frente Patriota Federal nominated César Biondini for president and Mariel Avendaño for vice-president.

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