The never-ending battle between President Mauricio Macri and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appears to have set the tone for this year’s electoral campaign. Yet, several contenders have been looking to creative a “third route” which looks to attracts votes from both sides of the so called ‘grieta’ or rift caused by polarisation. Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa has been trying to own that space at least since the 2015 presidential elections, while former Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna has now surfaced as a potential unity candidate. This week, Massa once again announced his intention to run in a primary within the Federal Alternative party, which groups non-Kirchnerite Peronists, while Lavagna, who has flirted with the space, reiterated his rejection to entering into said primaries.
In an event held at the La Rural Society exhibition grounds in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Massa blasted Macri’s economic policies fiercely.
“The problem is not Argentina, the problem is Macri and the path he has chosen for Argentina,” the former mayor of the Tigre municipality said. “Macri failed along with his team, not Argentines.”
Accusing the ruling Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition of using empty slogans such as “zero poverty” and “green shoots,” Massa noted that the Macri administration could no longer blame its economic failures on the previous 12 years of Kirchnerism.
Regarding his intention to run in the PASO primaries, Massa said he will “be where the voter asks me to be. If I have to lead, I will do it humbly, and if I have to support [another candidate], then I will do it fully.”
As Massa released a 10-point plan for the country, he also criticised former president Fernández de Kirchner, whom he once served under as Cabinet chief.
“Between the anger of some and the silence of others, there is room for serenity,” he said, referring to the ongoing strategy of antagonism between the country’s two leading political leaders.
Interestingly, Massa has spoken previously on multiple occasions about his relationship with Lavagna, who has advised him in previous campaigns and whose son is part of the Renewal Front.
Yet, this week the veteran politician distanced himself from Massa this week, claiming “we are in two different political projects.”
Lavagna hasn’t officially come out as a candidate, yet throughout the summer he was courted by several major political players, most of them from the Peronist ranks. The economist, who in the past took a stab for the presidency as part of the Civic Radical Union (UCR) and has been in governments of both political parties throughout the decades, has garnered the support of what has come to be known as the ‘circulo rojo’ or the influential group of businessmen, politicians, decision and opinion makers of the country.
In a radio interview with journalist Nelson Castro on Thursday, Lavagna made it clear that he has no intention on competing in primaries.
“Massa is in a project that will have a primary within a sector of [Peronists], while I form part of a project that seeks to build consensus in order to govern,” he explained.
The 2007 Radical candidate for president noted that there is a clear demand from society to build an alternative to the Kirchnerite past and the Macrista present.
“No-one will have a majority in both chambers of Congress […] so the idea is to join forces with [Peronists], Civic Radicals, socialists, members of Margarita Stolbizer’s GEN party, provincial organizations, businessmen, union leaders and members of civil society.”