December 22, 2013
Scioli breaks the news — and cements role
Buenos Aires governor is the first to reveal surgery went well during a political rally
As soon as it was confirmed that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would undergo head surgery, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli emerged seeking to guarantee democratic stability.
That role appeared to be cemented yesterday morning when Scioli was chosen to break the news that Fernández de Kirchner’s surgery had gone well.
The governor was not at the Favaloro Foundation hospital in Buenos Aires province, but he had apparently been told the news, delivering it to the public yesterday shortly before noon while he was heading a rally in San Martín, Buenos Aires province — the city ruled by Gabriel Katopodis, one of Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa’s key allies.
“The president is recovering from the anaesthesia, the surgery is over,” the governor announced with relief before proceeding to wish her “a quick recovery.”
His announcement came an hour before presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimaro gave the official word on the president’s health.
Minutes later, Scioli did what was expected and took up the leader’s role, asking people to vote for Kirchnerism at the midterms to be held on October 27.
During the campaign for the primaries and for the legislative elections, Scioli took on a leading role, accompanying the ruling Victory Front’s (FpV) top candidate Martín Insaurralde in rallies and meetings.
Scioli has the highest approval ratings out of Kirchnerite politicians, and the idea was for some of the governor’s popularity to rub off on the mostly unknown mayor.
When the ranking of Kirchnerism’s ballots was defined, Scioli was seen by Kirchnerites as a potential “backstabber,” and was said to have been negotiating with Massa to switch sides in the electoral battle.
In the end, Scioli remained a Kirchnerite, and the tune quickly changed. He was suddenly a “loyal soldier.”
Over the last few days, Scioli has emerged for some journalists as a the most important statesman in the country. He was portrayed as the guarantor of democratic institutions, which, in fact, should not be affected with the president’s leave of absence. The Constitution states that the vice-president should replace the head of state in such scenarios.
What some highlight is Scioli’s decision not to abandon the Kirchnerite ranks, despite of the attacks launched by the president against him, and also his leadership over the Justicialist Party (PJ), the essential machinery to keep Kirchnerism going for the next two years.
Scioli is not only seen as somebody who might ensure governability but also somebody who has not been harshly attacked by opposition leaders. Yesterday, he also had conciliatory words for those who are excluded from the Kirchnerism.
“The opposition has behaved responsibly, cautiously and respectfully,” the Buenos Aires governor said, adding: “This is a democracy which is maturing; democratic cohabitation should work as a common denominator.”
“There are some situations that urge us, Argentines, to unite with a spirit of responsibility, cooperation and to live together despite confrontation,” Scioli added.
Scioli, who in recent weeks has shadowed the president at rallies, also expressed his wish for her quick recovery. “I hope she can be perfectly fit to do what she loves doing, which is working tirelessly for new social, economic and productive achievements,” Scioli said.
Peronist or not Peronist?
With Fernández de Kirchner out of the rest of the campaign, Scioli will probably occupy a leading role, especially in Buenos Aires province, where opinion polls do not seem to favour Lomas de Zamora Mayor Insaurralde in his electoral battle with Massa, the Tigre mayor.
Scioli recently confirmed internal Peronist Party elections. Asked by the news agency DyN if a defeat in the midterms would be Kirchnerism’s death rattle and lead to a new era for Peronism, Scioli avoided being cornered.
However, he ratified Peronism’s alignment with the president and refused to slur Massa, who served as Fernández de Kirchner’s Cabinet chief in 2008 but in the last few months has become Kirchnerism’s main rival.