September 24, 2023

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It is easy to attribute intellectual prowess to powerful people – too often we see their consequential decisions as premeditated master strokes, magisterial moves on the grand chessboard of politics. But reality usually tells us quite the opposite: they are normal people with normal views making decisions about very public things that involve us all. In a soccer-obsessed country like Argentina, we owe the same level of foresight to successful soccer managers, from national team manager Lionel Scaloni, even though at first everyone was sure they were destined for failure.

When it comes to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, most observers agree that she exudes a Machiavellian grandeur, beyond what one might think of her political and ideological position. But as Gustavo Gonzalez has explained many times in his Sunday column profileCristina is probably an ordinary woman, not much different from other residents of the beautiful Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta, who enjoys watching movies and series on Netflix.
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and ice cream from Rapa Nui. His political shrewdness has been on display for three decades and he has alternated victory with defeat, yet he clearly outwitted the entire political system when he decided to take the passenger seat on the presidential ticket in 2019, in which Alberto Fernandez was chosen as the perfect running-mate. Order to oust Mauricio Macri. Nevertheless, the ruling Frente de Todos coalition has proven to be a dysfunctional mismatch of interests that has made governance an inefficiency-ridden nightmare. To some extent he followed the same model as Argentina’s main opposition coalition, which managed to win against Kirchnerism in 2015 but failed to run the state efficiently and ushered in an economic crisis.

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Has Fernandez de Kirchner been applauded? Public and private information indicates that there is an apparent agreement between President Alberto Fernandez and Economy Minister Sergio Massa on who will lead the pan-Peronist front in the 2023 presidential election. Alberto was the first to talk about the PASO primaries as the ideal method to determine a candidate, much to Cristina’s disgust. Those who considered themselves as kingmakers. He keeps reiterating that he will compete in the primaries, despite consistent polling data indicating he is one of the most loathed politicians in the country. Still, in that case, he ranks better than the majority of potential candidates in his spot, with virtually no competition—except for Massa.

The current Economy Minister of Argentina is considered pragmatic and opportunistic. He is the third leg of the ruling coalition with the President and his (at least formally) second-in-command. Massa’s presidential ambitions have been on the table for years, a time during which he has steadily weaved a network of allegiances with the private sector and political ecosystem. He has repeatedly said he will not run this year and suggested his only concern is stabilizing the economy, yet he barely hides excitement at the prospect of becoming president. The man from Tigre knows he’s won some points by occupying the hottest seat in the house after Martín Guzmán’s bombastic self-deprecation and Silvina Batakis’ inconsequential tenure, trying to rein in some macroeconomic variables behind piecemeal declarations. does management. Short-to-immediate-term shoring up. Making it into April with a downward trajectory for inflation and some level of economic growth will give him a platform to bid.

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There appears to be a not so secret agreement between Alberto and Massa that in order to avoid being made a lame duck the president will continue to claim he is going to run while Massa has the right to lead the Frente de Time to set up properly. Todos in the presidential election. And what about Christina? She has already said she will not run, but her caucus, centered mainly in the Carcharineite political organization La Campora, is fighting to get her back in the running. She has backtracked and reports indicate that there is no way she will take a leap of faith and run for President. In any case she may renounce her candidacy and lead a pan-Peronist ticket in the senatorial elections in Buenos Aires Province. La Campora’s leading candidate appears to be the nerdy Eduardo ‘Vado’ de Pedro who is far from competitive. Axel Ksiloff, Cristina’s protégé, is being pressured to run (despite what Maximo thinks) but prefers to compete in the country’s most populous province to retain the governorship. In the end, perhaps Sergio and Alberto are “smarter than they appear” – they are looking for a graceful way to displace Cristina from the leading role in which she has starred for so long. From today’s perspective, it is highly likely that a hypothetical candidate Massa would lose the election, but if he manages to run a successful campaign and retain a significant portion of the electorate, he would become the de facto leader of the opposition. A post from which he can dream of success in the 2027 elections.

The position is not unlike that of the opposition coalition, Juntos por el Cambio, which hopes to reap a bigger reward. The mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Lareta, has made his intentions clear for a few years, even if he has been ridiculously shy about accepting the “candidate” moniker until recently. He is also a pragmatist with a long history in public service, namely in the capital where he was Macri’s right-hand man until he took over as mayor, becoming the most relevant figure in the opposition and the main opponent of the Frente de Todos. . Interestingly, he is also a long-time friend of Massa.

Rodríguez Lareta’s ambitions have led to a fierce internal competition, apparently fueled by Macri, who wants to retain centrality and decision-making power. He has encouraged Patricia Bulrich, who chairs Macri’s PRO party, and has managed to get his cousin Jorge Macri into Rodríguez Lareta’s city hall cabinet. Jorge now aspires to replace his boss as mayor, which reads like a direct infraction of Rodriguez Laretta’s envisioned place. Macri has toughened his rhetoric, adopting somewhat right-wing positions that have seen him ideologically closer to moderate economist Xavier Milley. They complement each other. An internal fracture within the PRO has pitted the hawks against the Pigeons and put pressure on Rodríguez Lareta as several candidates vie for his spot. It has also caused a rift with allies in the Civic Radical Union (UCR), who are divided between those who want to disband the Juntos por el Cambio and others seeking the role of vice president.

The simplest explanation would be that there is some sort of de facto rift between Macri and his protégé Rodríguez Lareta as they struggle to maintain a key role in the opposition. Nevertheless, a certain cooperation can be read between the lines – Rodríguez Lareta has managed to obtain major concessions such as the move of his former deputy Diego Santilli to Buenos Aires province and the return of María Eugenia Vidal to the capital. Bulrich’s hardline stance, along with Macri’s neoliberal populism, appeals to a portion of the electorate that doesn’t match Rodríguez Larreta’s dialogue-prone manner, including Mili’s libertarians. And together they appear to be keeping the UCR at bay, despite the urgings of neurosurgeon Facundo Manes. It is not unreasonable to assume that Macri and Rodríguez Lareta are executing a playbook that will see them maintain prominent positions in the Juntos por el Cambio’s electoral structure while appealing to a broad spectrum of potential voters, from far-right to centrist. allows for. Rational Peronist. And, if it’s over, he’ll be able to “have a conversation” with his friend Massa in the aisle.

It is all political speculation at this point, but the contours of continued bi-coalitionism can be seen through the fog.

This Piece was originally published in Buenos Aires TimesThe only English language newspaper in Argentina.

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