Argentina will go to the polls this Sunday to define candidates for national deputies and senators, as well as provincial and municipal legislators, in a party internal. The mandatory vote for all Argentines, where the different political spaces define their candidates, is considered a preview of the final election on November 14. The ruling Frente de Todos (FdT) will try to get Argentine society to confirm the support it gave it at the end of 2019, when President Alberto Fernández became president.
The Fernández Government, however, will evaluate the result of this STEP (Primary, Open, Simultaneous and Compulsory) as a plebiscite for its management. In 2019, the Peronist coalition beat conservative Mauricio Macri with a promise to reactivate the economy and reverse the wage drop. But that promise was bogged down in the wake of the stoppage caused by the pandemic. The Fernández administration assures that, from now on, it will fulfill that truncated commitment.
The electoral outcome, mainly in the Province of Buenos Aires where 4 out of 10 Argentines vote, will also test the functioning of the government coalition. The FdT is made up of different Peronist groups: the one led by Vice President Cristina Kirchner, the one from the more orthodox Peronism and other minority branches.
The opposition front, for its part, will seek to definitively leave behind the failed experience of the Macri government. Together for Change (JxC), his political label, wants to look forward and is campaigning sustained in criticizing the Fernández Government for not having fulfilled its promises to reactivate the economy. But also the primary election will help the space to organize itself internally. Since Macri’s departure from power, the PRO founded by the former president and the historic Radical Civic Union (UCR) have competed to lead the opposition alliance.
For Juntos por el Cambio, the most concrete result of the PASO will be to find an objective and external parameter to process their differences and prioritize leaderships, facing the presidential elections of 2023. The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, imposed his candidates in the Capital and in the province of Buenos Aires. And he did it against the will of former President Mauricio Macri and a good part of the PRO provincial structure.
If the bet comes out acceptably well, Rodríguez Larreta will reaffirm his status as leader within that space. And he will be standing as the main opposition candidate to the Casa Rosada within two years. The UCR, a party with 130 years of history and numerous internal fractures, will try not to provide its ally with that presidential condition.
Outside of the opposition led by former President Macri, two forces will try to capture social discontent and break the current polarization in Argentina. The left will seek to renew two seats in Deputies and grow in the heat of the pandemic crisis.
But there is another space that will have the same objective, although with a novel discourse and of still uncertain scope. It is the extreme right embodied in a sector called “libertarian”. Its main figure, Javier Milei, is a far-right economist who has an anti-system discourse at times aggressive and violent. At the time, the libertarian economist proved to be a box office in the media, on social networks and among certain middle-class young people in the city of Buenos Aires. His challenge will be to give electoral volume to this new phenomenon in Argentina.