Spoiler alert: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will not announce her presidential candidacy at the May 25 rally in Buenos Aires on Thursday. Although her supporters chant and insist on the possibility of her running in October’s presidential election, the vice-president will say, once again, that "she will not be a mascot of power." Nor will she give a sign as to who will be her chosen candidate. What was going to be the last moment for clamour for "Cristina Presidenta" will now serve as the beginning of the painting of a picture of unity, something uncommon during the years of President Alberto Fernández’s administration. CFK will seek, however, to preserve centrality.
"It is a sincere gesture," said Alberto Fernández, minutes after he publicly joined the call for the event that will have Cristina as the protagonist. "May 25, 2003, changed history. The arrival of Néstor Kirchner [as president] started a path of moral reparation, social justice and human rights. On the 20th anniversary [of his inauguration], I call on everyone to pay homage to him in Plaza de Mayo and listen to his life partner, Cristina Kirchner," wrote the president on social media.
The organisers of the event explain that there will be more than 500 invited leaders present on Thursday, including officials from Alberto Fernández's government. They do not imagine the president himself will be at the Plaza de Mayo, but they value the gesture. A leader of maximum confidence, close to the vice-president, said: "It is a good message although it is not validating Cristina as a popular leader, he speaks of her only as Néstor’s companion.”
They talk about an invitation to all the sectors of the ruling Frente de Todos coalition, though the dodge questions about the possibility of the president participating. "Maybe his presence will create noise," they admit. The head of state knows that if he shows up, he will face a Kirchnerite crowd that no longer accompanies him. After participating in the Te Deum service at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, he may go to the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence.
"The truth is that there is no sense in having a meeting between the president and Cristina," says one of the most hard-line Kirchnerite officials. Yet some figures, such as Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro, continue to demand a meeting, in order to agree on the next months of administration. Will the message get through? The last exchange between the head of state and his running-mate took place at Easter. They greeted each other, wishing each other a “Happy Easter” – it did not serve as an excuse to talk about anything else.
In addition to the stage on which the vice-president will stand, there will be different areas where the 500 leaders to whom invitations will start to arrive on Monday will be present. Governors, legislators, mayors, union and social leaders are expected to attend.
Without CFK's candidacy as part of the strategy, the objective is to show a united Peronism front, one with possibilities of winning the election. However, even the vice-president herself doubts the outcome of the election. She is worried about the numbers ahead of the PASO primaries – and she does not want an electoral contest with too many candidates.
Fernández de Kirchner believes that there is still time to provide definitions. In the Plaza de Mayo there will be no news about the ruling coalition’s electoral strategy. Unlike in 2019, when the vice-president headed the electoral strategy, which was later joined by Peronist leaders, now she will show that this vote’s line-up is part of a joint decision.
At the rally, she will also talk about the economy, acknowledging that people are struggling. However, her words will be especially careful. "I don't want to contribute to aggravating anything," CFK tells her inner circle. "What does the election depend on? On the economy," she says. She is annoyed, once again, with former economy minister Martín Guzmán.
Although Kirchnerism could never have supported an agreement with the IMF, the Senate chief criticises – in public and in private – the minister who renegotiated the debt. But there are still points of agreement between the two. One of them has to do with the veep’s assurances that the next government will have to review the "unpayable" agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Whenever she mentions what should be discussed again, she talks about the surcharges. The revision of these charges is part of a fight that Guzmán took up but current Economy Minister Sergio Massa abandoned it. During President Fernández’s last visit to Washington, when he met with US President Joe Biden, Massa told him to put this claim aside, saying it was a useless discussion: the per diems of the officials of the international organisation come from that amount, so the IMF will never give in. However, CFK keeps returning to the theme.