"Las lapiceras del pueblo escriben un nombre: Cristina.”
With this phrase, Kirchnerite militants and leaders are warming up before a key speech that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will give in La Plata this Thursday. Although they know that there will be no definition, the vice-president’s sector will fill the Teatro Argentino and the surrounding streets convinced that she will be a candidate. They hope, in any case, that while onstage she will talk about the future and show that she is far from out of the election campaign. The activists expect a gesture to show that she will be the one to compete.
"Even if the Judiciary wants to proscribe her, we will continue to leave her name on our notebooks, posters and walls," read the call that passed through social networks among activists and leaders on Wednesday.
The objective is to call for "Cristina 2023." It is a continuation of the words uttered by Máximo Kirchner last Saturday at a rally: "The problem is that the name they want to write for this election is the one the Judiciary wants to take out," was the phrase that the lawmaker used to respond to the phrase with which President Alberto Fernandez’s used to announce he will seek a new mandate. "Let's give the pen to every militant," the head of state said in his video announcement.
Kirchnerism is now transforming this internal fight into a campaign, literally asking its base to write out Cristina's name. One of the first to do so was Axel Kicillof's chief advisor, Carlos Bianco. He wrote "Cristina" on a page of a Buenos Aires Province government and uploaded it to social networks.
"If you asked me on Friday, I had my doubts. But since Saturday [when Máximo asked for support at the event in La Plata] the signals have started to go in that direction," admits one Kirchnerite deputy, asked about the possibility of the vice-president competing in the presidential elections.
The vice-president has chosen a very special stage to speak from this Thursday. It holds memories: on July 7, 2005, she launched her candidacy for senator; on July 19, 2007, she presented her presidential candidacy; and on October 21, 2009, she implemented the Media Law from this stage. Now she returns to the Teatro Argentino, close to where she was born, to assure everyone that she and her movement will continue to put up a fight.
This is also part of another internal message to the president. CFK got tired of reading quotes from off-the-record Casa Rosada sources announcing that Kirchnerism was finished. On Thursday she will talk about the future and she will do so by inaugurating the Escuela Justicialista Néstor Kirchner. The talk will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 2003 elections, after which the former president came to power.
For now, those close to the head of state play down expectations surrounding the vice-president’s speech. What is more, they assure that Kirchnerism "has no second move" after President Fernández’s withdrawal from the race and, much less, candidates. "Any poll you see, Cristina measures the same as Daniel Scioli, Sergio Massa or Agustín Rossi. What she gets [in the polls] is what any of us who are going to represent Peronism get," they say.
Meanwhile, Peronist leaders in Buenos Aires Province are preparing to mobilise. Mayors, lawmakers and trade unionists will all take to the streets to continue what they started this Wednesday on social networks: to call for Cristina to be a candidate.