Argentina presidential election taking shape

Foto: Charly Diaz Azcue / COMUNICACIÓN SENADO

A clearer picture is emerging in Argentina of who plans to run for president and who aims to ride shotgun.

Just several weeks after populist former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in a shock announcement, said she would run for vice president on the ticket of former cabinet chief Alberto Fernández instead of seeking the nation’s top job, other players have executed pre-election maneuvers.

The biggest news was that center-right President Mauricio Macri tapped veteran Peronist senator Miguel Pichetto (pictured) as his vice-presidential running mate.

The move also took observers by surprise as Macri is from outside the spheres of the country’s two historically dominant political movements: the Peronists and the Radicals.

In announcing he was running with Pichetto, Macri indicated Argentines had a stark choice: “We Argentines have a historic opportunity to consolidate our democracy. In the next elections we will decide if we want to live in a republic or return to populist authoritarianism.”

Macri’ s opponents have accused him of mismanaging the economy, driving Argentines into poverty and ceding economic sovereignty to the IMF.

The naming of Pichetto, meanwhile, is a sign that the government – trying to drag the country out of a recession that has hit Argentines hard – seeks support from a wider section of the population.

A lawyer, Pichetto heads the Peronist bloc in the senate, the largest opposition force in the chamber, and is not aligned with Fernández de Kirchner, despite having been an ally during her 2001-15 terms in power.

Pichetto, who represents oil-producing province Río Negro, said in a tweet: “I always support the search for dialogue and consensus, because the only way to remove Argentine divisions is combating the sectarianism of ideas, authoritarianisms of conduct, and the Messianic leadership.”

Elsewhere on the political chessboard, center-right Salta province governor Juan Manuel Urtubey said he would not seek the nation’s top job but compete as vice-presidential running mate of centrist former economy minister and fellow Peronist, Roberto Lavagna. Both are part of the offshoot Alternativa Federal movement.

In another development, it emerged on Wednesday that center-left congressman Sergio Massa, also of Alternativa Federal, had formed an alliance with the Fernández-Fernández de Kirchner ticket. Details have yet to emerge.

Meanwhile, Urtubey said Alternativa Federal would “continue being the only alternative to [center-left political movement] Kirchnerism and to [center-right governing coalition] Cambiemos, with a responsible government plan,” state news agency Télam reported Urtubey camp officials as saying.

Argentines head to the polls on October 27. If no candidate secures at least 45% of votes – or 40% with a 10-point lead over the closest rival – a runoff between the two leading candidates will be held on November 24.

Recent polls have given the edge to the Fernández-Fernández de Kirchner ticket, but the impact of the latest political dealmaking has yet to be measured.

Whoever wins will inherit a weakened economy and a hefty government debit pile.

Written by: BNamericas