Daniel Scioli has become the first leading politician from Frente de Todos to confirm he will run in the ruling coalition’s presidential primary.
The 66-year-old political veteran, who is enjoying a productive spell as Argentina’s ambassador to Brazil, is a former governor of Buenos Aires Province who lost the 2015 presidential election to Mauricio Macri.
"I feel that the circumstances have led me to take on this responsibility. I am convinced that I can represent the people and lead them to victory. I am very clear about what is at stake and I hope to have the opportunity to project Argentina,” said Scioli, as he officially launched his campaign for office.
The line-up for the ruling coalition’s presidential primary is still far from defined. Scioli is the only high-profile figure to have confirmed his intentions, though social leader Juan Grabois has said he will also seek to run.
President Alberto Fernández intends to seek re-election, though he has said he will stand aside if voters choose another candidate in the primary. The Kirchnerite wing of Frente de Todos would like Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to stand, though she has said she will not stand for office in this year’s elections.
‘Common sense and pragmatism’
Scioli, who remains ambassador to Brazil, said he would lead a government of "common sense, pragmatism and coherence" if elected as Argentina’s president. Outlining his vision for the country, he said his experiences in Brasilia dealing with former president Jair Bolsonaro had taught him a lot.
"When many talk about closing the grieta rift, I had two paths with Bolsonaro, either I escalated the situation or I sought to defend the points of interest of our country, and that second was what we achieved," he said.
"I seek to be a facilitator of greater openness and to go in search of those disenchanted Argentines who do not want to return to the past,” he added.
A businessman and former boss of the Electrolux Argentina chain of electrical appliance stores in the 1980s, Scioli entered government during the Carlos Menem (1989-1999) years after a successful career in offshore powerboat racing championships.
In 1989, he lost his right arm in an accident on the Paraná river, but he returned to the sport wearing a prosthesis, winning a number of championships in the process.
In 2003, he became vice-president under late former president Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007), after which he served eight years as governor of Buenos Aires Province during the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government(2007-2015).
In 2015, Scioli headed a Peronist presidential ticket but he was defeated by Macri, losing a second round run-off by a margin of 51.34 percent to 48.66 percent.