As 2018 drew to a close, the mouth-watering prospect of a presidential race putting Mauricio Macri against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was still a very real possibility, and with the Cambiemos leader basking the glow of a successful G20 Leaders Summit and the heavy weight of the Cuadernos scandal touching numerous Kirchnerite officials, his re-election seemed an even realer possibility.
Fast-forward 12 months and much has changed (though the economy is still in the toilet). Some may point to slumping economic indicators but for most anaylsts, there is little doubt now about the moment that defined the year: the former head of state’s shock announcement that she would not run for a return to the Casa Rosada as leader and would instead second Alberto Fernández on a united Peronist presidential ticket.
In retrospect now, that move seems like a masterstroke. The ‘Fernández-Fernández’ ticket broke through Cristina’s ceiling to soar to a victory in the August 16 PASO primaries, igniting another economic earthquake and rendering the presidential race all but run. Macri continued on in earnest, drawing large crowds on his #SiSePuede whistlestop megatour but for the most part, it was a case of preaching to the converted. (Perhaps it was even a case of positioning and planning for the future, rather than fighting the race at hand?).
The result felt inevitable and when the night of October 27 finally arrived, the outcome was no surprise (though the margin of error was). Now, let’s see what lies ahead in 2020 – and whether the Peronists, Alberto and Cristina can keep themselves on the same page.