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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 22-04-2023 18:35

Alberto steps down early, shifting focus to PASO primaries

Argentina’s economic crisis accelerated the president’s announcement. The polls did not even give him a chance. He insists on the PASO primaries but, for now, no-one is echoing his request.

All of Peronism knew that President Alberto Fernández was going to give up his idea of re-election. The polls showed him to be in a very bad position, though he wanted to wait until the end of May to announce the move.

Crisis, however, precipitated his resignation, and before falling at the Partido Justicialista’s (PJ) national congress meeting, he preferred to bring forward his decision in order to be able to participate in the election campaign. "Finally" was the word most used by leaders who spoke to Perfil.

Kirchnerism and La Cámpora, with Interior Minister Eduardo ‘Wado’ De Pedro at the fore, had warned that they would go in search of definitions at the council meeting to “order” electoral strategy. They consider that too much time had been wasted while waiting for a decision everyone already knew, including Alberto himself. Though few knew of his decision on the night of Thursday, April 20.

One of the first to find out was his Cabinet chief, Agustín Rossi, who authorised him to say this week that if the president withdrew from the race he wanted to be the candidate of the Executive branch. The others in the race are Daniel Scioli, who approached the camporistas to get Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's approval, De Pedro, social leader Juan Grabois and Economy Minister Sergio Massa. 

With the decision already out in the open, the president will now seek to show himself as a "guarantor" of the unity of the coalition and insists on competitive PASO primaries, in order to – as he sees it – democratise Peronism. The fact is that no alternative has yet been ruled out. Those who prefer to go with a single candidate insist that nothing guarantees that the loser of the internal election will accompany the winner. Not to mention that the loser will have to leave a lot of people aside when it comes to the general election.

The PJ will also have to begin to resolve, beyond the unity or the PASO, what will happen further down the road. A party leader from Buenos Aires Province spoke to Perfil after the president's decision and explained it as follows: "Until they give the order from above, we can't consider anything closed, even if we have another strategy. A presidential internal election could be attractive for the Peronist electorate, but if there are no clear rules and it could harm us between August and October.”

Is there room for forced unity again, as in 2019? was the question asked. "It can't be Cristina's finger again. That is no longer enough. But if there is an agreement to go after one and it is armed in that sense, why not?" he replied. 

A new chapter has begun.

Ramón Indart

Ramón Indart

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