Latin America

Argentina’s president puts her son and allies on top of her party’s slates

Fernández de Kirchner ends speculation over whether she will run for another public post

Carlos E. Cué
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner speaks with presidential candidate Daniel Scioli on Saturday.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner speaks with presidential candidate Daniel Scioli on Saturday.REUTERS

One of the biggest questions in Argentinean politics this year was whether President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who will leave office at the end of 2015, will run for a public post in the upcoming elections.

The parties had until midnight Saturday to prepare their slates, and despite the anticipation, the president’s name does not appear on any of them.

The president had kept many guessing as to whether she would run for a congressional seat or even for governor

After 12 years in power and half her life in the Senate, Fernández de Kirchner may be leaving public life for now, but she will still wield political weight behind the scenes.

Her son, Máximo Kirchner, will run for a seat in Congress as the number one candidate on the ruling Victory Front (FPV) coalition’s ticket in Santa Cruz, the southern Argentinean province where both his father – the late President Néstor Kirchner – and his mother began their political careers.

A powerful leader of the La Cámpora youth organization, which supports the president, the younger Kirchner runs a string of hotels and other businesses in Santa Cruz.

Daniel Scioli, the current governor of Buenos Aires province, stands to become President Fernández’s heir apparent in the FPV alliance. Even though at times she has not placed a lot of faith in him, recent public opinion polls favor Scioli as a presidential candidate.

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Rounding off the congressional slate lists are a number of long-term supporters of Fernández de Kirchner.

Among the key figures topping the slates around the country are other members of La Cámpora, such as Axel Kicillof, the current economy minister; Andrés Larroque, a deputy in Congress; and Eduardo “Wado” De Pedro, director of the presidential office and the son of parents who were among those who were “disappeared” during the country’s military dictatorship (1976-1983).

These officials are expected to play important roles to keep Scioli from veering off course from the current economic policies put in place by Fernández de Kirchner, with the help of her economy minister over the past six years.

The president had kept many Argentineans guessing whether she would run for a congressional seat, or even as governor of her native Santa Cruz province. Joking with her supporters a few months back, she said that she hoped she would not have to return in 2019. But later she said that she didn’t plan on running again in the future.

After serving two terms, Fernández de Kirchner is barred by the Constitution from running for a third consecutive time.

Scioli’s running mate will be Carlos Zannini. Known as “El Chino” because of his Maoist ideas, Zannini has been an important Kirchner family confidante for more than 30 years.

During Saturday’s Flag Day ceremonies held in Rosario, Fernández de Kirchner made it clear in her speech that her successor must not negotiate with the bondholders of the so-called vulture funds, who are currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Argentinean government over payments on their investments.

Fernández de Kirchner has warned her successor not to give in to vulture funds

The country’s credit ratings have sunk since Argentina was declared in default.

“Now the vulture funds are demanding half of our reserves held in the central bank. Dignity and sovereignty are our criteria,” she said. “Even with our mistakes during these 12 years we have led the greatest process of growth with social inclusion.”

As the elections approach, there are more discussions in Argentina over what type of new policies Scioli may introduce, while at the same time talk also is centering on the changes proposed by the VFP’s main rival, Mauricio Macri, the conservative Buenos Aires mayor who last week selected a woman, Gabriela Michetti, as his running mate.

Primaries among the coalitions will be held on August 9 before the October general elections.

Scioli, along with his vice-presidential running mate Zannini, will run unopposed in the FPV primaries while Macri will have to face Ernesto Sanz of the Radical Party (UCR) and Elisa Carrió of the Civic Coalition (CC), who, together with Macri’s PRO party, form the Cambiemos (Let’s change) alliance.

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