They do not talk to Alberto Fernández, but they send him public messages. This time, the messages are twofold: firstly, they are willing to move forward with debate about the potential suspension of the PASO primaries and secondly, that the president should not be the ruling coalition’s candidate in 2023. Kirchnerite leaders are imposing these debates despite the position of the head of state, who is willing to defend the primaries and his candidacy.
Neither national deputy Máximo Kirchner nor Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro are talking to the head of state. The times in which both leaders acted as mediators between the president and the vice-president are long gone. With the dialogue all but broken off, the messages come through the media.
First it was Kirchner, the president of the Justicialist Party of Buenos Aires Province, who said that it would be "strange" for the president to compete in a primary against other candidates. Just a few hours later, De Pedro accompanied those statements by assuring the press that the vast majority of the Frente de Todos wanted to suspend the primaries in which the head of state had signed up to compete.
Almost one year ago, Alberto Fernández opened up competition for the PASOs, declaring his wish publicly in front of a packed Plaza de Mayo at an event that members of the La Cámpora youth organisation had decided not to attend. “My greatest aspiration is that in 2023, from the last councillor to the president of the Republic, candidates will be elected first by the comrades of the Frente de Todos,” said the president on November 17, 2021.
But Kirchnerite leaders made it clear last week that they want neither the PASOs nor the re-election of the president.
"The discussion is public, 100 percent of the governors have expressed their support for not holding four elections a year," said the interior minister, who has been talking to the provincial leaders about the suspension of the internal elections.
“We have a presidential system. The presidency is unipersonal. The one who makes the decisions is the president Alberto Fernández, and that is why tensions are generated and discussed publicly, because most of the governors and mayors want to convince him of the idea,” he added
Speaking at a CELAC-EU summit last week, Fernández said that “the electoral processes underway should not be distorted." However, he later clarified that he was referring to the region and the election in Brazil.
The president is clear that he did not jab at Kirchnerism – but his security minister did. "Why don't they convince 'Wado,' tell him to stop screwing around with this and accompany the President," said Aníbal Fernández, who confirmed that Fernández would stand. "There is no-one here who can tell the president that he can't be a candidate," said the official.
Hours earlier, the head of state had also received the backing of veteran union leader Hugo Moyano: "If he is willing to do so, he has every right to do so … he has shown a balance within all this unfortunate situation that we have gone through since the pandemic.”
It is easy to talk and give opinions from the outside when they do not have the responsibility to take decisions that are sometimes unpleasant, but are necessary so that people do not suffer so much. This has been demonstrated by the president.”
Daniel Scioli, Argentina’s ambassador to Brazil, also came out in defence of the primaries. "Today the PASOs are in force. In the case of Frente de Todos, they can be very mobilising for the grassroots activists," he said.
The discussion has only just begun.