The result of the primary elections in Argentina caused a strong shock in the main political alliances of the country. Nobody expected the triumph of the ultra Javier Milei, who was the candidate with the most votes with 30% of the support. The Peronist Unión por la Patria lost more than 5.7 million votes compared to 2019 and the center-right coalition Together for Change, more than 1.4 million; altogether, more than seven million ballots. A week after the shock, both spaces seek to define their strategies to face the candidate of La Libertad Avanza in the elections on October 22, when he is elected president.
The political scientist Lara Goyburu explains that the two political forces have gone out to look for the electorate “with two different lines” although “one is as difficult as the other”: “In Unión por la Patria the difficulty lies in recovering the classic Peronist voter and in Together for Change is that the profile is shared with that of La Libertad Avanza”. Peronism reacted more quickly to the results, the political scientist believes: “There is already a strong call from all pan-Peronism to (say) ‘the differences are over, Massa is the candidate, put aside your itching and go after he”.
That same election night, in the Unión por la Patria bunker, they began to talk about building “a new majority.” The official results were not yet known, but the party already sensed that they would not be good. When Sergio Massa came out on stage, with the results that placed him as the second most voted, the candidate warned that he promised that “the next government will not only be one of coalition unity, but of national unity.” That is the line that he has followed this week, while he continues in the duplicity of being Minister of Economy and candidate.
Massa even expressed in an interview with the Clarín newspaper that he will seek to convene a “broader” government that includes radicals and Peronist leaders “who accompanied Horacio (Rodríguez Larreta).” During the week, he revealed that his team approached the mayor of Buenos Aires, representative of the most moderate sector of Together for Change and loser in the internal center-right with Patricia Bullrich. But according to national media, Rodríguez Larreta’s environment denied an approach.
Goyburu points out that the call of Peronism was “clearer” than that of the center-right. “Together for Change has not yet found the discursive and construction axis between now and October,” explains the political scientist. This week, there was criticism from within the alliance towards former President Mauricio Macri, a benchmark in space, who defended that Milei “is part of the change” in Argentina; the economist reciprocated the statement saying that if he becomes president Macri he will occupy “a prominent role as a representative of Argentina.”
This closeness to Milei caused a former minister within Juntos por el Cambio to say that this “kind of flirtation” with the libertarian economist “confuses the voter a lot.” Also that Elisa Carrió, a member of the alliance, who had stated that she would go into exile if Milei reached the Casa Rosada, resigned from her candidacy in Parlasur, although she said it was for health reasons, and that a member of the coalition published on social networks that “working on this project is incompatible with speculation or personal ambivalence.”
The consultant Alexandra Moreno analyzes that the closeness between Macri and the ultra candidate “blurs the differences that could exist between Milei and Bullrich.” “Together for Change had to rearrange itself after a fierce inmate and they are still seeing how the internship affected them, which led to a great loss of voters,” says the consultant, who is part of the #NoSinMujeres network of political scientists. For Moreno, Bullrich’s challenge is now double because he must “retain Larreta’s vote” and “seduce the same voters as Milei” without getting lost between two forces. The candidate, according to Moreno, will try to position herself as “the order within the change”, because “change already means Milei”
On the horizon, the possibility of a second round after the October 22 elections appears to be a reality. To win in the first round, a candidate needs to obtain 45% of the votes or obtain 40% and have a difference of at least 10 points with the second most voted. With the results on Sunday, which made up a scenario of thirds, none of the candidates would achieve it.
“The difference between the first and the third is not more than three points and that creates uncertainty. It is very difficult to believe that in 60 days there could be a great distance”, points out Moreno, who continues: “A scenario of thirds leaves little margin of voters that can be capitalized. Undoubtedly, (the parties) have to go looking for voters who have already decided to vote for others and, above all, appeal to those who did not go to vote. “The big question,” Moreno points out, “is whether this run-off is going to take place between the two right-wing forces or between one of these two spaces and Unión por la Patria.”
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