Every May 25, Argentines remember the political events that occurred in 1810 that began the revolution that left the viceroy aside and, in the midst of the fall of the Spanish monarchy during the Napoleonic Wars, began the process of independence, which it came to fruition six years later. It has also been a date used by Kirchnerism to hold large public events, since May 25, 2003 was when former President Néstor Kirchner assumed the presidency of the country. In 2023, the tribute to the deceased former president has had a different dimension: the demonstration of forces of the ruling party in the face of the electoral campaign.
Vice President Cristina Kirchner was the star. Not only had she been announced as the only speaker at the event, but she had excluded the current president, Alberto Fernández, despite having been a close friend and chief of staff of the late ex-president.
The content of the former president’s speech was kept secret until she took the stage, but it was already ruled out that it included the name of a person chosen for the October presidential elections.
Kirchner spoke of the economy, of how before her husband governed there was repression and poverty, she recalled the “corralito” that impoverished Argentines, and accused the opposition of being “the children” of those governments. “They left the country in debt in four years and they are the ones who now say they want to return,” she added, referring to the opposition grouped in Together for Change. The pro-government Frente de Todos is looking for a candidate. If there is no agreement, he will be chosen in a primary on August 13.
On April 21, President Alberto Fernández confirmed that he will not seek re-election, in the midst of an economic crisis, his low popularity and the division in his own government. He assured that the candidate must come out among all the allied left groups.
Cristina Kirchner had already said that she would not be a candidate. She is the most valued Peronist, but she has a judicial conviction for corruption and a political disqualification for life. Her position is to agree on a candidate who does not go through the STEP, but rather sticks to a government program agreed upon among the allies.
In the ruling party there are several aspirants to succeed Fernández. Some seek to win the primaries and others an election by consensus. In the first place, there is Daniel Scioli, ambassador to Brazil, who in 2015 was the best positioned in the first presidential round, but was defeated in the second by Mauricio Macri. Scioli has confirmed that he will compete in the primaries. Also the head of the current Cabinet, Agustín Rossi.
Others look to the Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, who would be preparing his launch for June 10, but aspires to be a “unique and competitive candidate.” If he didn’t make it, he would push the governor of Salta, Gustavo Sáez, in the primaries.
In Argentina, it is assumed that Cirstina Kirchner supports – although not yet publicly – the Minister of the Interior, Eduardo “Wado” De Pedro, one of the organizers of the event this Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo. “Wado de Pedro is Cristina’s candidate,” said deputy Hugo Yasky, general secretary of the Central de Trabajadores de Argentina (CTA), on Tuesday. But the minister has so far not expressed his opinion. “I’m going to do what the partner Cristina says,” he released a week ago.
A similar position is held by the current governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof. He wants to be re-elected to that position, but if Kirchner asks him to run for the Casa Rosada, he would do it. And Juan Grabois, of the Patria Grande Front, would launch himself into the primaries if Cristina does not openly support another.
The power game is led by deputy Máximo Kirchner, son of the vice president and former president Néstor Kirchner, who also organized yesterday’s act in front of the Government Palace.
The opposition coalition Together for Change is also looking for a candidate. In contention are the head of government of the city of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, as well as the deputy Patricia Bullrich; former senator Miguel Ángel Pichetto, the leader of the Civic Coalition, Elisa Carrió; the governor of Jujuy, Gerardo Morales, and the leader of the Radical Civic Union (UCR) Facundo Manes.
In Together for Change there is no doubt that the primaries are the way to go to define a unified candidacy that faces Kirchnerism and the liberal Javier Milei.