Argentina's political parties and coalitions have two weeks to close the electoral lists with which they will compete for the presidency next October. The names of the final candidates will be chosen in the simultaneous and mandatory open primaries (Paso) on August 13. Polls show a scenario divided into thirds — Peronism grouped under the umbrella of the ruling Frente de Todos, the center-right opposition alliance Together for Change and the ultraliberal Javier Milei as leader of Libertad Avanza — that foresees the need for a second round. The growth of Milei worries the coalition founded by former President Mauricio Macri and has triggered a temporary identity crisis as a result of the open dialogue with referents of the two ends of the political arc in search of new adhesions.
The promoter of the expansion is the mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, one of the best positioned presidential candidates. A member of the moderate wing of Together for Change, Rodríguez Larreta is pushing for the broadest possible coalition to emerge victorious at the polls. The Buenos Aires mayor's team intends to add figures as dissimilar as the dissident Peronist Juan Schiaretti, outgoing governor of the province of Córdoba; the liberal José Luis Espert, a former ally of Milei; and the progressive Margarita Stolbizer. Behind it there is "a single objective," as he said Sunday through a statement: "to guarantee change in Argentina" with an electoral triumph.
THE TOTAL CHANGE THAT ARGENTINES NEED REQUIRES A NEW MAJORITY pic.twitter.com/lBJ3tz239W
— Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (@horaciorlarreta) June 4, 2023
In front of him is his biggest internal rival, former Macri Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, representative of the most conservative sector. "I am against concoctions or that Together for Change is an amoeba," Bullrich warned when questioning that Rodríguez Larreta and the radical Gerardo Morales try to impose "who enters and who does not" in the coalition.
This Tuesday, Macri has joined the fight and has made clear his preference for Bullrich over Larreta. "All this that is being talked about sounds like a pile-up that deprofiles Together for Change and the vocation of renewal," he said about the expansion proposal. Macri has accused the Buenos Aires mayor of trying to change the "rules of the game unilaterally" in the final stretch of the party and generate confusion in the electorate.
Important referents of the opposition coalition participated in a meeting on Monday to try to iron out rough edges, but this ended without reaching an agreement.
The proposal that generates the most controversy is the one that reaches out to the governor of Córdoba. The inhabitants of the province of Córdoba, the second most populous in Argentina, elect his successor in two weeks and one of the referents of Together for Change, Luis Juez, fights for the position with the dolphin of Schiaretti, Martín Llaryora. "You have to be respectful of jurisdictions. I do not accept this outrage," Judge said after appearing by surprise, without having been invited, to Monday's conclave of Together for Change to express his rejection of the Peronist.
Still, neither Larreta nor Schiaretti are giving up. Four years ago, Macri also sought among the allied Peronist ranks to expand his electoral front and chose veteran deputy Miguel Angel Pichetto as his candidate for vice president.
The fight for leadership in the opposition coalition will leave wounds but there is no break in sight that would further fragment the vote and reduce its chances of an electoral triumph. Peronism is closely following the confrontation without being able to make a profit: with two weeks to go, it is still looking for a candidate.
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