Politics

Fernández, Kirchner, Massa seal coalition on deadline day

13th June 2019

By Luciana Bertoia

Fernández, Kirchner, Massa seal coalition on deadline day

The mystery is over. Alberto Fernandez, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Sergio Massa have sealed an alliance to compete against President Mauricio Macri and his recently revealed running mate, Senator Miguel Angel Pichetto.

It is still unknown whether Massa will give up his presidential ambitions and put together a consensus ticket with his new political allies or if he will push for a primary against Fernández and Fernández de Kirchner. But the coalition between Massa’s Renewal Front and the Justicialist Party (PJ) was registered yesterday minutes before the midnight deadline.

</p> <p>&#8220;We have agreed on the creation of a coalition of parties in which each of them will maintain their identity instead of lumping different leaders together,&#8221; Massa said after a meeting at Alberto Fernandez&#8217;s offices in Buenos Aires city.</p> <p>The coalition, registered last night before Federal Judge María Romilda Servini, will be known as Frente de Todos (Everyone’s Front). It marks the return of allies who accompanied Fernández de Kirchner while her husband Néstor Kirchner was still alive and in charge of the presidency. Alberto Fernández, Sergio Massa, and union leader Hugo Moyano are among those who put aside past rifts with the former president to join forces against Macri.</p> <h2>Fine print in discussion</h2> <p>Other key allies joining Massa and Fernández in yesterday’s meeting included former Buenos Aires Province Governor Felipe Solá and Eduardo &#8220;Wado&#8221; de Pedro, one of the leaders of the youth group <em>La Cámpora</em> and Fernández de Kirchner&#8217;s right-hand man in the negotiations.</p> <p>Massa said they agreed not only to form the coalition but also on 12 points for a future government if they win October’s general election. Although he did not reveal the agreement, he mentioned the role of the state in economics and the need to stand up to the country’s debtors as key points.</p> <p>Fernández de Kirchner, for her part, did not make any statements. The former president merely retweeted a message from her running mate, confirming the alliance with Massa.</p> <p>On June 22, the full list of coalition candidates have to register before Federal Judge Servini. At that point, <a href="https://www.pagina12.com.ar/199971-las-negociaciones-que-faltan">it will become clear whether Frente de Todos will be the only coalition to hold a primary in August</a>. Fernández de Kirchner will leave the country soon after the candidates are registered to visit her daughter Florencia, who is undergoing medical treatment in Cuba.</p> <h2><strong>Back together</strong></h2> <p>Massa and Fernández had been flirting over the last few weeks. On Sunday, while the Renewal Front founder was in Chubut visiting Governor Mariano Arcioni, who secured his re-election, Fernández sent him a televised ultimatum. While both of them were being interviewed in a C5N TV show, Fernández told him: &#8220;Sergio, come back to Buenos Aires, let&#8217;s have a coffee and get it over with.”</p> <p>On Tuesday, there was a meeting between Massa and several PJ leaders that paved the way for the meeting with Fernández, who was Massa’s campaign manager in 2013 and 2015.</p> <p>Massa replaced Fernández as Fernández de Kirchner&#8217;s Cabinet chief when the latter resigned after the 2008 crisis with the farming sector. His relationship with Fernández de Kirchner came to an end in 2013, when Massa launched the Renewal Front together with a group of rebellious anti-Kirchnerite mayors and won the congressional elections over Fernández de Kirchner&#8217;s candidate in the BA province, Lomas de Zamora Mayor Martín Insaurralde.</p> <h2>Why Massa?</h2> <p>As a result of the 2013 victory in the largest electoral stronghold of Peronism, the province of Buenos Aires, Massa emerged as a leader with a chance to reach the Casa Rosada. But he quickly started to lose votes.</p> <p>In 2013, he won Buenos Aires with 44 percent of the valid votes. But in 2015, he only obtained 21 percent as a presidential candidate. In 2017, he made an alliance with Margarita Stolbizer, a progressive lawmaker, and ran for a senatorial bench representing the province of Buenos Aires, but only obtained 11.3 percent of the ballots, far behind Fernández de Kirchner and Macri’s candidates for the Upper House, Esteban Bullrich and Gladys González.</p> <p>The return of Massa to a coalition including Fernández de Kirchner comes as part of a strategy to stop splitting the Peronist vote in the province.</p> <p>In addition, his presence on the ticket could help undermine support for Governor María Eugenia Vidal, a key ally for Macri. Since her surprise victory against Peronism in 2015, Massa has provided essential backing to Vidal in the BA provincial Legislature, helping her secure a majority to pass bills.</p> <h2><strong>Alternativa Federal’s remains</strong></h2> <p>The decision to re-join Fernández de Kirchner does not come without costs for Massa. His main ally in Congress, lawmaker Graciela Camaño, announced that she will support Roberto Lavagna&#8217;s presidential bid instead. Camaño was one of few Peronist leaders that did not side with the Kirchners during their twelve years in power, and considers Cristina Kirchner as a line she shouldn’t cross.</p> <p>Massa’s new coalition and Pichetto’s decision to run as Macri’s vice president also precipitated the end of the non-Kirchnerite Peronist “Alternativa Federal” coalition.</p> <p>Alternativa Federal was founded on September 2018, with a photo op of four Peronist leaders: Massa, Pichetto, Córdoba Governor Juan Carlos Schiaretti, and Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey. But their goal of joining forces to create an alternative to both Macri and Kirchnerism lasted less than nine months.</p> <p>Left alone by his former allies, Urtubey decided to follow Camaño and back Lavagna’s presidential bid instead, together with a few non-Kirchnerite progressives such as Santa Fe Governor Miguel Liftschitz and Massa’s former ally Stolbizer.</p> <p>It is still unclear whether Córdoba’s governor will back the candidacy of Lavagna too. The national government <a href="https://www.clarin.com/politica/descartado-juan-manuel-urtubey-casa-rosada-apunta-ahora-juan-schiaretti_0_Za-4Pxkt8.html">wants Schiaretti&#8217;s support in Córdoba</a> if there is a runoff between Macri and Fernández. That province helped Macri defeat Scioli in 2015, by granting him 71 percent of the votes in the decisive head to head.</p> <h2><strong>Eight coalitions</strong></h2> <p>The eight coalitions registered yesterday for this year’s presidential race, as well as their likely presidential candidates, are listed below.</p> <p><strong>Juntos por el Cambio (formerly known as Cambiemos)</strong>: Mauricio Macri &#8211; Miguel Pichetto</p> <p><strong>Frente de Todos</strong>: Alberto Fernández &#8211; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (with a posible primary against Sergio Massa)</p> <p><strong>Consenso Federal</strong>: Roberto Lavagna – Juan Manuel Urtubey</p> <p><strong>Despertar (Libertarian)</strong>: José Luis Espert</p> <p><strong>Nos (Religious Right)</strong>: Juan José Gómez Centurión</p> <p><strong>Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Trotskyte Left)</strong>: Nicolás del Caño – Romina del Plá</p> <p><strong>Nuevo MAS (Trotskyte Left)</strong>: Manuela Castañeira</p> <p><strong>Frente Patriota (Neo-Nazi right)</strong>: Alejandro Biondini</p> <p>

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Luciana Bertoia

Luciana Bertoia is a journalist specialized in judicial, political and human rights issues. She has published in Ámbito Financiero, Página/12, the Buenos Aires Herald and the International Justice Tribune.