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ARGENTINA | 08-05-2023 11:08

Ruling parties win gubernatorial elections in La Rioja, Jujuy and Misiones

No surprises in first ‘Super Sunday’ of year as Argentina’s 2023 election calendar advances; Hugo Passalacqua elected governor in Misiones by huge margin; Ricardo Quintela secures re-election for Frente de Todos in La Rioja; Radical Carlos Sadir triumphs in Jujuy to succeed Gerardo Morales.

Provincial elections in Misiones, Jujuy and La Rioja produced comfortable victories for ruling parties this weekend, with little surprise on the first ‘Super Sunday’ of the year.

The most resounding triumph was in Misiones, where Frente Renovador de la Concordia candidate Hugo Passalacqua was elected as governor for a new four-year term by a near 40-point margin. In La Rioja, Ricardo Quintela also won re-election for the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, while Carlos Sadir triumphed in Jujuy for Juntos por el Cambio, capitalising on support for outgoing UCR governor Gerardo Morales, who has said he will run for the presidency.

All three leaders will take office on December 10. Last Sunday’s  results mean that neither of Argentina’s main two coalitions were able to seize control of new territory, as forecast by leading pollsters.

Both the government and the opposition will be hoping for better results this weekend, with elections scheduled in five provinces – Salta, La Pampa, Tierra del Fuego, Tucumán, and San Juan (although complications emerged in the latter two during the week) – go to the ballot-box for what are likely to be more competitive gubernatorial elections.

Frente de Todos, however, has the most at stake – all five regions are currently governed by pro-government leaders.


Passalacqua romps to victory

In Misiones, Hugo Passalacqua, the candidate for the Frente Renovador de la Concordia (legally standing under the ‘Partido de la Concordia Social’ to avoid confusion with Sergio Massa’s Frente Renovador party), held the province to win election and succeed outgoing Governor Oscar Herrera Ahuad with 64 percent of the vote. The party also prevailed in mayoral elections in the provincial capital of Posadas (where Leonardo Stelatto won re-election) and Oberá (where Pablo Hassan triumped).

Juntos por el Cambio’s candidate Martín Arjol came in second, with the Unión Cívica Radical provincial lawmaker trailing by almost 38 points. He was followed by La Fuerza de Todos hopeful and fellow provincial deputy Isaac Lenguaza, a Kirchnerite agrarian leader, with just under five percent.

Passalacqua, emboldened by his victory, highlighted in his victory speech that he did not identify with any national line and had not sought the endorsement of any party prior to polling day.


Quintela re-elected

In La Rioja, Peronist governor Quintela won re-election by a near 20-point lead over Juntos por el Cambio hopeful Felipe Álvarez, retaining Peronist control of the province  He described it as an “important, resounding victory” for the ruling coalition.

Álvarez, a former Peronist and non-partisan gubernatorial candidate who only joined Juntos por el Cambio this year, secured just over 30 percent. 

Martín Menem, nephew of former president Carlos Menem and the candidate of Javier Milei’s La Libertad Avanza, came in third with just over 15 percent of the vote, extinguishing forecasts that he could surpass Juntos por el Cambio and take second place. He denounced alleged irregularities in the ballot and local police admitted that there had been some problems, though they described them as only "minor inconveniences."

President Alberto Fernández welcomed news of Quintela’s victory, praising his “tireless” work for La Rioja. The Peronist leader travelled to the region on Monday to celebrate the triumph.

"Congratulations dear Governor Ricardo Quintela! From Frente de Todos you worked tirelessly for our wonderful La Rioja and the people accompanied you again," wrote the president in a post on Twitter.


Sadir wins for opposition

Up in Jujuy Province, Carlos Sadir, running for the Frente Cambia Jujuy alliance linked to Juntos por el Cambio, won the race to succeed Gerardo Morales as the region’s next governor.

With almost 99 percent of polling stations reported, the provincial finance minister and Morales’ deputy had secured 49 percent of the vote, easily seeing off his Peronist rival Rubén Rivarola, who obtained 22 percent, and Frente de Izquierda-Unidad candidate Alejandra Vilca, who took just under 13 percent.

"Thanks to the people of Jujuy who voted for us. We are going to continue working to transform” the province, declared Sadir in his victory speech.

The win was hailed by leading figures in the opposition coalition, with both departing Governor Gerardo Morales and Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in the bunker for election night – an image increasing speculation that the two leaders may share a ticket in the PASO primaries in August. 

UCR Senator Martín Lousteau – who wants to follow Rodríguez Larreta at City Hall – was also in attendance.

Presidential hopeful Patricia Bullrich was one of the opposition coalition’s first figures to voice her happiness at the result.

“Congratulations Carlos Sadir for your triumph! The people of Jujuy decided to continue with the change that Gerardo Morales started with courage,” wrote the former security minister and PRO party leader. “They are testimony of how Kirchnerism can be defeated. A big hug to the elected candidates of Juntos por el Cambio.”

The result is a major victory for the opposition, given that Jujuy is home to a number of growing exports, including lithium and cannabis production. It also delivers a major boost to Morales’ own presidential hopes and national projection.

"This is a triumph of work and a recognition of Gerardo's very good management," said Rodríguez Larreta, highlighting Morales’ provincial leadership.


– TIMES with agencies

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