Tag Archive | "President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner"

Argentina News Roundup: 15th April 2014

Buenos Aires Subte (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Buenos Aires Subte (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Judge Orders Modifications to Subte Fare Plan: Buenos Aires judge Elena Liberatori today ordered modifications to subte price plans for multiple-journey tickets introduced last month when the basic fare rose from $3.50 to $4.50. Liberatori ruled that the fare for a single journey could remain at $4.50 but that a ticket for 20 journeys should cost $85 ($4.25 per journey). Further discounts for multi-journey tickets will remain in place: a 30-journey pass will cost $126 ($4.20 per journey), one for 40 journeys $157 ($3.94 each), and for 50 journeys $184 ($3.68 each). However, Liberatori ordered the removal of any expiry date on these multi-journey tickets. Finally, the judge ruled that subte travel on weekends and public holidays will count towards a passenger’s reward scheme for regular use. Under the current system, a commuter using the subte twice every working day would only qualify for the maximum savings on three months of the year, due to public holidays.

Today’s ruling comes after Buenos Aires city legislator Alejandro Bodart had filed an appeal against the fare hike in March, and the city government was ordered to modify the pricing system to account for “inconsistencies”. Bodart had requested the fare be returned to $3.50 and today said the ruling was “insufficient”, adding that he would present another appeal tomorrow because the city government had not properly justified the fare hike.

New Regulations for Motorbike Passengers in Security Crackdown: Motorcycle passengers in the province on Buenos Aires will be obliged to wear a helmet and reflective jacket marked with the bike’s number plate, as part of efforts to clamp down on crime. The new measure was introduced by governor Daniel Scioli yesterday and came into effect today. Failure to comply with the regulation will be considered a “serious offence” and could result in confiscation of the vehicle or driving license. “This is a road safety measure, but above all targets a new style of crime committed by motorcycle passengers,” explained Alberto Pérez, cabinet chief for the provincial government. The move comes as part of governor Scioli’s ‘security emergency‘ programme, declared after a wave of lynchings put the spotlight on crime and security in the province.

President Fernández presents new bill to combat informal labour (photo: Maximiliano Luna/Télam)

President Fernández presents new bill to combat informal labour (photo: Maximiliano Luna/Télam)

New Bill Targets Informal Labour Market: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday presented a new law aimed at reducing informal labour that will be sent to Congress. The aim of the bill is to bring around 650,000 workers into the formal labour market over the next two years through a combination of incentives, especially for small companies, to register staff and stricter controls. According to the proposal, companies with fewer that five employees will receive a 50% deduction in employer contribution payments. All private companies that hire new workers will receive similar benefits for two years, with the deduction ranging from 25% to 100% depending on the size of the business. Presenting the bill, President Fernández said that working in the informal market is “the second biggest problem for workers, the first is not having a job.” Labour Minister Carlos Tomada said the bill would deliver a “final blow” to informal labour. “We want to intensify the fight [against informal labour] and so we are providing tools so that employers do not deny workers their rights,” said Tomada in a radio interview earlier today. Under the initiative, the Labour Ministry will have authority to supervise the application of labour laws. At present, provincial governments are responsible for regulating labour conditions, but according to Tomada, lack the resources to carry out controls. According to official statistics, approximately a third of the working age population are in the informal labour market.

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Argentina News Roundup: 25th March 2014

A monument to the murdered French tourists was inaugurated last year in the area they were found in Salta (photo: Néstor Troncoso/El Tribuno/Télam)

A monument to the murdered French tourists was inaugurated last year in the area they were found in Salta (photo: Néstor Troncoso/El Tribuno/Télam)

Trial Over Murdered French Tourists Begins in Salta: The trial of five suspects for the rape and murder of two French tourists in Salta in 2011 began today in the provincial capital. Three of the defendants – Gustavo Lasi, Daniel Vilte Laxi and Santos Clemente Vera – are accused of double homicide, with aggravated sexual assault and theft. Lasi has already confessed to being at the scene of the crime and sexually assaulting one of the women, though claimed Vilte Laxi and Vera shot the girls. Both deny any involvement in the crime. The other two defendants, Omar Darío Ramos and Antonio Eduardo Sandoval, are charged with helping to cover up the crime by hiding the murder weapon. An estimated 200 witnesses will provide testimony in the trial, with a verdict expected in May. The two victims, Cassandre Bouvier and Houria Moumni, were last seen visiting the popular tourist site Quebrada de San Lorenzo on 15th July 2011. Their bodies were found two weeks later.

President Accuses Western Powers of Double Standards Over Crimea: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner today criticised the “double standards of some Western countries and international organisations” in territorial disputes. “They can’t defend territorial integrity in Crimea and be against it in the Malvinas Islands,” the president wrote on Twitter, in reference to the contrasting reactions of the UK and US to recent referendums over sovereignty in both places. The statement came shortly after a phone conversation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in which she said he “highlighted Argentina’s position to include these double standards in the debate.” President Fernández also cricticised the application of sanctions, which she claimed “only impede constructive dialogue”, and added that the two leaders also discussed improving economic and business ties between Argentina and Russia.

Paramedics Found Guilty of Abandoning Dying Slum Resident: Two paramedics, Eva Celia Rodríguez and Marcela Susana Tela, received a three-year suspended prison sentence on Friday night after being found guilty of the abandonment of a person leading to death. The pair were also disqualified from working for two years and ordered to complete a further two years of community work. The ambulance paramedics refused to enter Villa 31 to treat Humberto ‘Sapito’ Ruiz, who died in April 2011 after suffering multiple epilectic seizures, despite the offer of police custody. In delivering her verdict, Judge María Elena Diotti ruled that “the accused had failed in their duty due to their discriminatory prejudices, and therefore committed a crime.” The ruling is the first in Buenos Aires to condemn ambulance personnel for refusing to treat people inside the city’s shantytowns.

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Argentina News Roundup: 19th March 2014

Teachers protest in La Plata (photo: Carlos Cermele/Télam/aa)

Teachers protest in La Plata (photo: Carlos Cermele/Télam/aa)

Teachers Protest as Conflict Continues: Hundreds of teachers protested today in front of the Buenos Aires provincial government building in La Plata as part of the ongoing conflict over wage negotiations. On the 11th day of their strike, teachers once again rejected the government’s offer of a 30.9% salary increase to be paid between March and August. They demanded to be called back to the negotiation table, and warned that “the conflict could extend through the year.” Union representative Roberto Baradel confirmed that the unions will not accept the mandatory conciliation established last Wednesday and that they will continue striking. “If they touch one peso belonging to the workers we will go and look for them in every corner in the province,” said Baradel. Buenos Aires governor Daniel Scioli stated that “my pacience is endless but I have to make decisions that are somewhere between what’s ideal and what’s possible,” whilst state news agency Telam quotes government sources as saying that “an appeal for legal protection is an alternative [the government] is considering if the unions don’t accept the mandatory conciliation and don’t begin the school year, leaving almost 4 million children without school.”

President Fernández Meets With French Counterpart: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner met French president François Hollande in Paris this morning. In a joint press conference after the private meeting, the presidents stated that they discussed issues of bilateral trade, education agreements, and international security. The most celebrated outcome of the meeting was the assurance by president Hollande that his country will “back a financial agreement” between the Argentine government and the Paris Club in order to cancel the country’s debt. “France wants Argentina to sort out its financial situation, they are about to negotiate a financial deal with the Paris Club and we will back it, because it’s also in our best interest to boost our exchange with Argentina,” said the French president. President Fernández also thanked Hollande for his government’s support in the litigation against holdouts that Argentina is fighting in a US court. Talking about both governments’ concerns over the situation in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, president Fernández ratified her government’s stance on territorial integrity, saying that “in order to preserve world peace, it’s fundamental to not have a double standard, you can’t agree with territorial integrity in Crimea and not agree with territorial integrity in Malvinas.” The Argentine president will remain in France until Friday. This afternoon she was meeting representatives from oil company Total, whilst tomorrow she will meet French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and will attend the opening of the Paris Book Fair, where Argentina will be a guest of honour on the 100th anniversary of writer Julio Cortázar’s birth.

Trucks Toll Suspended: A judge suspended a measure put in place last month, by which trucks had to pay a special $185 toll when entering or leaving the City of Buenos Aires on peak hour. The three-month suspension came as a response by judge Pablo Cayssials to an appeal for legal protection filed by the Argentine Federation of Freight Companies (Fadeeac), as the judge understood that paying the toll “would be a violation to the rights” of Fadeeac, and stated that it is not within the jurisdiction of the Interior and Transport Ministry to set such toll, as he considered it a tax (which can only be set and modified by Congress). Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo said that the government will appeal the ruling, which he called “a complete lack of common sense.” Randazzo also said that the judge ruled “in favour of the transport businesses” by establishing “that thousands of trucks can circulate again on motorways in peak hour, holding traffic which was already beginning to be more fluid and safe for everyone.”

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Argentina Celebrates 30 Years Since the Return to Democracy

First democratically-elected leader after the dictatorship, Raúl Alfonsín.

First democratically-elected leader after the dictatorship, Raúl Alfonsín.

Celebrations to mark 30 years since the return of democracy in Argentina are underway in Buenos Aires, despite some calls to suspend them in light of violent outbreaks around the country.

Today Argentina celebrates the 30th anniversary of when democratically-elected President Raúl Alfonsín took office in the Casa Rosada, marking the return of democracy to the country. Around half a million people are expected to turn out to the celebrations that have already started on Plaza de Mayo to commemorate the historic event.

However, the joyous occasion has been marred by the ongoing violence and looting across the country, which have left an estimated nine dead in the last few days.

At 3pm the “democracy forever” celebrations started in the Plaza de Mayo. Many musicians, dancers and theatre and tango groups are set to perform in front of the Casa Rosada on a huge stage which has been erected especially for the event. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is also leading a formal act to celebrate 30 years of democracy in the Bicentenary museum. Civil servants, governors, legal authorities, civil rights groups and church members, amongst other special guests, are in attendance. At around 9pm, it is thought that President Fernández will address the crowds from the Casa Rosada.

Former Argentine presidents were invited to attend the formal act. While Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, interim president during the 2001 financial crisis confirmed he would attend, Eduardo Duhalde, who served as president from 2002-2003 said that “although he would like to attend” he would be unable to. He stated, however, that “the 30 years of Argentine democracy deserved to be celebrated with greatness of spirit and hands stretched out to the whole of society.”

Some politicians, however, have called for the festivities to be suspened in light of the outbursts of violence caused by the series of police strikes taking place around the country. Ricardo Alfonsín, invited to attend the formal act on behalf of his late father, Raúl Alfonsín, said that he would attend, but expressed his belief that the public celebrations should have been postponed “until a better time, given the severity of the situation.”

Buenos Aires mayor, Mauricio Macri, also announced that he would not be attending the celebrations due to a full schedule and expressed that he too thought that the event should have been suspended due to the violence registered around the country.

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The Indy Eye: Fuerza Cristina

Thousands have gathered outside the Fundación Favaloro medical clinic, where President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is recovering from surgery to remove a subdural haematoma from her brain.

President Fernández was hospitalised on Sunday evening after feeling a tingling sensation down her left arm. Upon hearing the news, supporters of the president began to arrive at the clinic, bringing messages of hope and solidarity. These messages were echoed around social networks under the slogan ‘Fuerza Cristina’

Following the operation yesterday morning, a government spokesperson informed that the operation was a success and that the president was “in good spirits”, while a statement today confirmed her recovery continues “favourably and without complications”.

Photographer Patricio Guillamón was outside the centre and shares some of his images from the vigil here.

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Argentine President Makes her Speech at the UN General Assembly

President Fernández speaks before the UN General Assembly (photo: Presidencia/Télam/cf)

President Fernández speaks before the UN General Assembly (photo: Presidencia/Télam/cf)

Yesterday, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gave her speech at the 68th UN General Assembly. In the main points of her speech the President urged Iran to move forward with the AMIA agreement, highlighted the need to reform the UN Security Council, and heavily criticised vulture funds and the UK’s no-dialogue stance on the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.

Speaking about the AMIA agreement, which was signed by Argentina and Iran in January 2013 in order to move forward with investigations on the 1994 bombing, the President said “I hope [Iran] tells us if they have approved the agreement, when they are going to approve it if they haven’t already, and, furthermore, that we can agree on a date to form a Comission so that the Argentine judge can go to Tehran.”

“We are not afraid of going to Tehran,” she added, stating that the victims of the 1994 terrorist attack deserved a response. She went on to say, however, that having listened to Iranian president Hassan Rohani’s speech, she was optimistic that they would receive a “positive response” on the matter.

The President also used the opportunity to reiterate her desire for the UN Security Council to be reformed, stating that the institution had proven to be outdated, “completely dysfunctional and obsolete.” She cited how the institution had recently dealt with Syria as an example of its inefficiency, but said that this was just one example of many. She also stressed that “the right to veto a decision has become and obstacle” and called for a system of “global law and governance” to be created.

Elaborating on Syria, the President critcised the great powers’ reaction to the situation, saying: “What is the difference between death by firearm and death by chemical weapons?”, and addressing these powers she said: “We had to wait for 1,000 people to die by chemical weapons before we discovered that 150,000 had been killed by fire arms. Maybe the countries that sell weapons can tell us why… There are no fair wars, only peace is fair.”

An important part of the president’s speech was dedicated to the re-negotiation of Argentine debt and the vulture funds dispute, which the United States’ Supreme Court will begin to debate on Monday. She said: “they bought the debt for US$40m and today they want us to pay US$1.7bn. Its a 1,300% increase” and declared that, if this kind of operation is not condemned internationally it will be impossible to find businesses that want to invest in a country to create jobs.

At this moment in her speech the president recalled the former US Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill’s jibe at Argentina in 2001, when he said that US plumbers did not want to pay for Argentine’s parties, saying ‘Today, millions of Argentines who are economically starting to find their feet again do not want to pay for the lobbyists’ parties.”

Finally, President Fernández renewed her claim over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands saying that the United Kingdom was “completely ignoring” the UN resolultions for dialogue between the two countries and expressing her belief that it was ironic that “dialogue” had been mentioned in so any speeches but, in this case, was not put into practice.

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New Doubts Over Appointment of Military Chief César Milani

César Milani after being promoted by the president (Photo: Tito La Penna/Télam/dsl)

César Milani after being promoted by the president (Photo: Tito La Penna/Télam/dsl)

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday decided to postpone the Senate debate over the appointment of military general César Milani until the end of the year, after October’s legislative elections, to coincide with the normal time for discussions over promotions of other military officials.

The ruling comes after the Centre of Legal and Social Studies (CELS) submitted a document yesterday that provides information of “court records” and “national and provincial actions” that link the leader to repressive military events during the dictatorship, and advised the government to “reject” Milani’s promotion to military chief.  

The CELS document follows recent request by Nora Cortiñas of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo-Línea Fundadora, for the government to carry out an “in depth” investigation on Miliani.

Congress had moved to debate the appointment of the military chief in light of this document, but yesterday President Fernández resolved to wait on the arbitration.

“On the instructions of the president of the nation, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the processing of the promotion of military leaders of various sections will be suspended until the time to review the promotions of all the members of the Armed Forces,“ reported a group of senators representing the ruling Frente para la Victora (FpV) party.

“The decision was made in light of the obvious distortion of the procedure, with clear electoral intention, and with the need to prevent the Armed Forces from turning into a object of electoral dispute, something totally unrelated to their specific roles and missions,” continued the statement, signed by the president of the Senate Resolutions Committee, Marcelo Guinle, and the head of the Front for Victory (FPV), Miguel Pichetto, after meeting with President Fernández and Defence Minister, Agustín Rossi, in the Casa Rosada.

The latest statement by CELS came after an interview with Milani was published in Página 12 on Sunday, in which he failed to mention that in 1976 he had signed a brief falsely naming conscript Alberto Ledo a deserter. Ledo was disappeared in Tucumán during the last dictatorship.

The journalist who interviewed the military leader, Raúl Kollman, wrote today that Milani had asked him to clarify his remarks. ”During the interview this weekend, Milani also told me that he had signed the records made in La Rioja for the desertion of Ledo: ‘We were four lieutenants and we took the records by random to sign’,” he said.

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Argentine Football Association Bans Away Fans ‘Until Further Notice’

AFA Logo

AFA Logo

Today the Argentine Football Association (AFA) will confirm that away fans will be banned from all ‘Primera’ and ‘Nacional B’ games until further notice, according to canchallena.com.

Security Minister Sergio Berni proposed this measure to AFA – which will take effect from the first weekend of August – in response to violence on Sunday between rival factions of the barra brava (hooligan gang) of Boca Juniors, where there were over 100 shots fired, resulting in two deaths and six injuries.

“It is a proposal that will start with AFA, but we are preparing more requirements for all the clubs. This is a short-term measure, but we will go deeper,“ said Berni. “The measure will cover all the categories and will apply to the whole country. There are always exceptions, and those cases will be analysed.”

In relation to the ongoing problem of football violence Berni sustained that “none of this could have been feasible if not for leaders of the clubs allowing it to happen.”

Away fans have temporarily banned before, as recently as last month, after the death of a Lanús fan by a rubber bullet after clashes with police in the La Plata stadium.

President Cristina Fernández de Krichner yesterday condemned the ongoing prevalence of violence in football in remarks she made at the inauguration of a home for female victims of domestic violence in the town of Villa Fiorito. 

The president called for a “red card for certain sports leaders who continue to protect criminals and allow what happened yesterday to continue to happen. We must call out things as they are and name those who are truly responsible.”

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Supreme Court Declares Part of Judicial Reforms Unconstitutional

The Palace of Justice, site of the Supreme Court (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Palace of Justice, site of the Supreme Court (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Yesterday, Argentina’s Supreme Court declared unconstitutional part of the judicial law which was passed by the Congress last month.

The passage of the law that was declared unconstitutional proposed changes to the Magistrates’ Council, the body that elects and can replace judges.

Amongst the most controversial reforms was the intended expansion of the Council from 13 to 19 members and the proposition to appoint the majority of them through general elections. But now, the Supreme Court declared this would “affect the independence of the judiciary system.”

This part of the judicial law had been widely criticized by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch organisation amid others, who believed that it would turn judges into vulnerable figures for political influence.

Today different political poles have strongly reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Andrés Larroque, the secretary general of La Cámpora – an organisation ‘kirchnerista’, questioned how the media law “could have been stagnating for the last four years, but this gets resolved in fifteen days.”

Furthermore, Larroque criticised: “The Supreme Court, which was designed and proposed to defend the rights of the citizens, ends up prohibiting the popular vote as a democratizing factor that would allow the judiciary system to recover its credibility in eyes of the public.”

Meanwhile, a group of constitutionalists went even further, saying it will try to repeal three fundamental judicial reforms with a referendum: the Magistrates’ Council reform, restrictions on precautionary measures against the state, and the creation of three new courts of appeal. Initiative is headed by lawyers Daniel Sabsay and Iván Cullen and is counting on the support of several non-governmental organisations as well.

“My impression of the Court’s decision is just excellent. It was fulfilled what I had been predicting. I knew the Supreme Court would not be able to look the other way!” Sabsay commented.

Despite some struggling, in May President Fernández managed to endorse the judicial law after criticising Argentine judiciary system and accusing some judges of following and obeying economic interests.

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Argentina’s Mid-Term Elections: The Race is On

Last week, the electoral wheels were put in motion. Two months ahead of the primaries for the legislative elections, to be held on 11th August, political parties were required to register alliances before the electoral authority.

The next deadline is on Saturday 22nd June, when parties and alliances will have to register the candidates that will participate in the primaries.

Cristina Fernandez (Photo: The Argentina Independent archives)

Cristina Fernandez (Photo: The Argentina Independent archives)

The activity amongst politicians and party operators over the last few weeks has been feverish – meetings, conversations, negotiations, tantrums. More so than ever, it became evident that shared goals, common policies, or ideology were not the main factors at play. The main discussions, and the basis for many alliances, seemed to revolve around how many candidates each party would be able to have on the ballot, and in which position (the closer to the top, the better the chance of being elected).

The Kirchnerist Frente para la Victoria (FPV) was the first alliance to be registered on the day of the deadline, Wednesday 12th, in all 24 districts. There were no surprises on this front, which includes the Partido Justicialista, Partido de la Victoria, Partido Comunista, and Nuevo Encuentro, among others. The leftist Frente de Izquierda y los Trabajadores (FIT) will also maintain the arrangements they had for the last election.

All eyes were therefore on the opposition – after many months talking about the need to come together against the government, brokering agreements turned out to be more complicated than expected. While the full electoral panorama will be revealed on Saturday, the registered alliances and the ever-spinning rumour mill gives us a good idea of the likely scenario for the August primaries.

The Importance of Mid-Term Elections

In October, half of the Chamber of Deputies and a third of the Senate will be renewed. The deputies who were elected in 2009 will be finishing their terms, which means that there is much at stake for the opposition, and less so for the government.

The 2009 election, right after the ‘campo crisis‘, was the worst performance by Kirchnerist parties since 2003. As a result, only around 40 seats of the 127 at play currently belong to the ruling parties or allies; in other words, a mediocre performance by the government would be enough to hold on to its current majority.

The opposition, however, needs to repeat the good results from 2009 just to maintain the status quo, and its chances of snatching the majority from the government are rather slim. Even if they did, it is hard to know what the effect would be in terms of parliamentary activity -when the opposition held the majority between 2009 and 2011, parliamentary performance was below average in terms of bills passed.

This is because talking about ‘the opposition’ as a single entity is tricky. Despite their self-proclaimed aim to unite against the government – something they consider a demand by the people – it is evident that their arrangements are precarious at best. They are not based on commonly-agreed electoral platforms or on shared goals and policies, but simply on opposing the government and trying to score a few extra points ahead of the next presidential election.

In fact, many consider the October election as the begining of a long campaign for 2015, and have set their sights in securing the best position possible in the race to the Casa Rosada.

The City

The City of Buenos Aires will have three main contenders, as a large part of the opposition managed to come together in a broad centre-left alliance with some centre-right elements.

The Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), Frente Amplio Progresista (FAP, made up of Libres del Sur and Partido Socialista), Proyecto Sur, Coalición Cívica (CC), and other smaller parties formed an alliance called ‘Unen’. Unlike most other parties and alliances, which consider the primaries a mere formality, Unen will in fact decide its candidates in August. The front will put forward three ballots for the deputies’ election, headed by Elisa Carrió (CC), Ricardo Gil Lavedra (UCR), and Martin Lousteau (President Fernández’s former economy minister, [in]famous for drafting the resolution that brought about the ‘campo crisis’ in 2008). The candidates of each of the ballots that obtain more than 25% of the vote will be eligible to appear on the final ballot for October – the order of the candidates will be decided using the D’Hondt method, the same one that is used in the actual election.

Elisa Carrió, Ricardo Gil Lavedra, and Martin Lousteau (Photos: Wikimedia)

Elisa Carrió, Ricardo Gil Lavedra, and Martin Lousteau (Photos: Wikimedia)

The city of Buenos Aires will also elect senators in October. Unen will have three ballots for senators, each of which will be attached to the deputies’ ballots, and which will be headed by Pino Solanas (Proyecto Sur), Alfonso Prat Gay (CC), and Rodolfo Terragno (UCR) respectively.

Unen will have to run against the favourite, PRO, and the FPV. Despite high expectations, PRO did not manage to secure a deal with Néstor Kirchner’s former economy minister, Roberto Lavagna, who instead registered an alliance with Acción Ciudadana, a party which in 2005 carried a neo-nazi as its main candidate. There is still speculation that Lavagna could run under the PRO banner, though it would mean giving his current allies the cold shoulder. In the meantime, Gabriela Michetti is favourite to lead the ballot for the Senate (after many unsuccessfull attempts to have her represent the party in the province of Buenos Aires), while it is expected that the rabbi Sergio Bergman will secure the first spot in the deputies’ ballot.

The FPV, as usual, remains tight-lipped about its candidates, which are likely to be selected, as usual, by the president herself. However, there are strong rumours that senator Daniel Filmus will fight to keep his seat, while city legislator Juan Cabandié could lead the deputies’ race. A victory by PRO is almost out of the question, while the FPV and Unen would fight for the second spot, which secures a seat in the Senate.

The Province

The largest electoral district, the province of Buenos Aires, is still something of a mystery.

Mauricio Macri’s party, PRO, was unable to secure an agreement with Francisco de Narváez, which would have given it a strong candidate in this decisive district. Macri’s cousin and Vicente López’s mayor, Jorge Macri, suggested that the party may now be looking at an agreement with the mayor of Tigre, Sergio Massa. If they cannot secure a firm arrangement, PRO may not present candidates in the province at all, missing a crucial opportunity to set foot in the province with a view to the 2015 presidential election.

Massa has been at the centre of the rumour mill for the past week, since he registered his own alliance in the province of Buenos Aires. President Fernández’s former chief of cabinet is a bit like governor Daniel Scioli -nominally he is allied with the government, but no one is quite sure where his convictions lie, and the opposition have been trying to get him to jump ship for years. He remains cautious though, not giving anything away. The speculation this week was whether he would run for deputy himself, something that now seems unlikely. What is certain, given the fact that he registered his ‘Frente Renovador’, is that his candidates (likely his wife and the mayor of Almirante Brown) will not be the same as the governments’.

UCR, FAP, and CC will also go together in the province, where they will add GEN to the alliance. GEN’s leader, former UCR Margarita Stolbizer, will lead the consensus ballot. This has brought about some internal problems within the UCR, as one of their factions does not approve of the alliance and is seeking to present its own ballot in the primaries.

There is uncertainty among the FPV ranks as to who will represent the government in Buenos Aires. The main candidates are Social Development Minister Alicia Kirchner (resisted by some factions), Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo (his chances possibly affected by the Castelar train crash), and, with a lower profile, Lomas de Zamora mayor Martín Insaurralde. Further complicating the selection process, it has been reported that Governor Scioli’s representatives are having meetings with high-ranking government officials to include their own people in the FPV ballots. The negotiations could be topped by a meeting between Scioli and President Fernández by the weekend, leaving Scioli within the realm of Kirchnerism -at least for now.

National Congress (Photo: Pedro-Ignacio-Guridi)

National Congress (Photo: Pedro-Ignacio-Guridi)

Other Districts

Of the remaining, ‘big’ districts, PRO also failed to reach an agreement with dissident peronists in the province of Córdoba. In this case, it was governor José Manuel de la Sota who slipped from the reach of Macri’s negotiators. De la Sota’s candidate, former governor Juan Schiaretti, will be fighting for first place against UCR candidate Oscar Aguad. Polls have not been generous to PRO’s candidate, former football referee Héctor Baldassi, or to the FPV, whose main candidate is yet to be chosen.

In Santa Fe, PRO is also trusting on a non-politician to secure a few spots in the lower house. Comedian Miguel Del Sel, who surprised everyone by coming a very close second in the elections for governor in 2011, will lead the fight against the Frente Progresista, the succesful alliance between the UCR and the Partido Socialista that has governed the province since 2007. Hermes Binner will get the first spot on the consensus ballot, although a UCR faction has threatened to present their own ballot in the primaries. The candidate who will represent the FPV remains a mystery, since the government’s main man in Santa Fe, Agustín Rossi, was recently designated Defence Minister.

Other, smaller districts, are also going through similar processes to put together viable electoral alternatives to face the government’s candidates, which are likely to perform well in most provinces.

Whilst many of these alliances may not survive the elections, they provide an interesting glimpse into the dynamics of political negotiation in Argentina. Every hand shake, every photo showing two newly allied candidates has consequences in the configuration of the ever-shifting party system. Ultimately, it will be up to the voters to reward or reject the attempts by the opposition to reinvent itself.

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Five years on from the death of ex president Raúl Alfonsín, we look back at those emotional days in 2009 and reflect on the legacy left by 'the father of democracy'

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