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ARGENTINA | 24-05-2023 10:23

With Cristina out the race, talks over ruling coalition's candidates ramp up

With Cristina Fernández de Kirchner officially out of the running, discussions over Frente de Todos’ potential presidential candidates are speeding up.

Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s confirmation that she will not be a candidate for any elected post this year is spurring a dance of names within Frente de Todos, accelerating talks over the ruling coalition candidates. 

The Senate chief takes the Peronist alliance one step closer to defining its presidential nomination in a competitive PASO primary. The option of Cristina as the solo candidate has been disarmed and no-one in the ruling coalition would have confronted her at the ballot box. 

Economy Minister Sergio Massa, Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi, Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro, Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli and social leader Juan Grabois, the leader of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular (CTEP), are some of the most-circulated names at present. Other possibilities include provincial governors, including Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof.

Massa, the undoubted heavyweight in the race, is the candidate who is most favoured by the markets and the one who most rejects the idea of a contested primary. He is seen as a potential candidate of consensus, but he has not yet succeeded in uniting the troops.

In contrast, Scioli, Argentina’s envoy to Brasília and the Peronist presidential candidate in 2015, wants a competitive ballot. "The PASOs make us stronger. The PASOs are fundamental in discussing our future," he said earlier this week.

Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi, who said he wanted to run after President Alberto Fernández announced he would not stand for re-election, also says the successful candidate should emerge from the primaries. The veteran politician said this week that he would make a final decision in the coming days. In his view, "the best thing that can happen to Frente de Todos is for it to be an open, broad, plural space, where those who want to compete can do so,” said Rossi.

Another oft-mentioned contender is De Pedro, Argentina’s interior minister and a key Kirchnerite voice in the Cabinet. He began touring the country some time ago and with his political boss now out of the running, his chances would seem to improve.

De Pedro’s Kirchnerite credentials could only be bettered by Axel Kicillof and no-one is willing to rule the former economy minister out of the race. But as governor of Buenos Aires Province, the nation’s key battleground, Kicillof is more likely to seek re-election. 

The last name on the list is Juan Grabois, the leader of the Frente Patria Grande. The lawyer personally put himself in contention and says he will not accept Massa as a candidate. Confirmation that De Pedro is the chosen one, however, could lead to Grabois stepping aside.

The ruling coalition is hoping to define its line-up by June 24, when Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is expected to publicly bless a candidate or sign-off on a contested primary – something the ruling coalition has never used to define its national presidential candidate.

 

– TIMES/NA

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