Argentina’s Interior Minister Eduardo de Pedro announced he would compete to represent the ruling Peronist coalition in presidential elections to be held later this year.
Known locally as ‘Wado,’ de Pedro announced his bid Thursday in a campaign video in which he sought to distance himself from the government he’s part of. Juan Manzur, a former Cabinet chief and governor of the northern province of Tucumán, will be his running-mate.
“We have urgent problems — the irresponsible debt left to us, the drama with inflation and unacceptable poverty,” de Pedro said in the video. “We have to tackle those urgencies without excuses.”
The Peronists and de Pedro face a tough re-election bid in October 22 general elections amid a deep economic crisis. Inflation is charging over 114 percent annually, the country is expected to enter a recession later this year, all while starting to pay back the International Monetary Fund on a US$44-billion programme.
De Pedro will be competing for the nomination against Argentina’s ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Scioli, the presidential contender in 2015 who lost to Mauricio Macri. Candidates have until June 24 to announce the presidential tickets and the nomination is decided in an August primary vote.
The move raises questions about the future of Economy Minister Sergio Massa, who was widely expected to compete for the nomination. A spokesman for Massa didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Opposition nominees include Patricia Bullrich and Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, competing for the Juntos por el Cambio bloc, and libertarian Javier Milei.
De Pedro’s decision reflects the influence of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the most powerful leader in the ruling coalition. Fernández de Kirchner, herself a two-term president, already announced she wouldn’t run but holds outsized decision-making power in the bloc. De Pedro is a loyal lieutenant to Fernández de Kirchner, who represents a far-left wing of the Peronist coalition. President Alberto Fernández is not running for re-election.
As interior minister, de Pedro brokered the relationship between the national government and powerful governors in the provinces, key actors needed to garner votes on the campaign trail.
De Pedro’s personal history prompted his early involvement in left-wing groups. He was kidnapped as a child after his parents, who were both political activists, were killed during Argentina’s military dictatorship, before being rescued by his relatives. Later during the 2001 economic crisis, de Pedro was briefly detained and beaten by police during a protest in downtown Buenos Aires. He has a speech impediment that he speaks about openly to advocate against bullying in schools, according to an official biography distributed by his office on Thursday.
by Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg