December 9, 2013
Old personal rancours undermine UNEN
Although they rally together, Estenssoro and Carrió maintain their rivalry
The UNEN party is not as united as its name might imply. And there may be a simple reason for that: ‘This is not about friendship,” lawmaker Elisa Carrió, the political front’s architect has said with her usual firebrand style.
Carrió uttered her words on the debate hosted by cable television channel Todo Noticias earlier this week when she was talking about the alliance’s plans after the October 27 midterms. Days later, her words continue to echo inside UNEN.
Whether UNEN is here to stay is anybody’s guess, particularly considering the many behind-the-scenes disputes going on while campaign is approaching its climax.
So far, members of the party, which was formed by joining a disparate group of politicians, are still able to largely maintain a united front in public but personal animosity that has arisen on numerous fronts could very well jeopardize future bonds.
“She just didn’t want her in the campaigning poster, that’s all,” one of Carrió closest acknowledged to the Herald, with an enigmatic tone-his confession revealing an internal dispute that has caused rifts within the party.
Who’s “she”? The party’s top Lower House nominee Carrió. And the one she did not want in the picture? María Eugenia Estenssoro, who is running second in the party’s City Legislature ticket.
Carrió surprised even part of her allies when she had a strong negative reaction to the planned launch of a second round of campaign posters that party strategists were getting ready to plaster across the City.
The first version had already been released, that showed the names of the candidates over a colourful background. But the new edition also included photographs-the same photographs that voters will find in UNEN ballots at the voting booth.
The party strategists planned to include photographs of the top two nominees running for the Lower House, Senate and Legislature: Carrió and Martín Lousteau, senatorial formula Fernando ‘Pino‘ Solanas-Fernanda Reyes and Gustavo Vera and Estenssoro.
Carrió rejected the plan and demanded that only five photographs be included, leaving one out. Guess who.
Not so long ago, Estenssoro and Carrió used to be partners, rallying side by side under the same umbrella. Estenssoro even won her seat in the Senate as part of the Civic Coalition formula alongside philosopher Samuel Cabanchik.
Something happened along the way.
“It’s a battle of egos,” one close aide to a BA City lawmaker told the Herald. “It’s always about ego if Lilita is involved. And it’s not just about Estenssoro’s high-profile.”
Although they stand together at rallies, it’s an open secret within UNEN that the alliance between ticket leaders peronist “Pino” Solanas and Carrió, is more pragmatic in nature rather than rooted in strong ideology.
Solanas himself seemed to suggest as much when he famously stated, “This ends on October 27.” He later backtracked.
With Estenssoro, the conflict harks back to the 2011 presidential elections, when Carrió received a paltry 1.8 percent of the vote —the worst electoral performance of her career. Carrió and Estenssoro split ways.
“María Eugenia continued insisting on the importance of new alliances while Carrió went into exile to (Greater Buenos Aires province district of) La Matanza with (social activist) Héctor ‘Toty’ Flores,” a separate UNEN source told this newspaper.
Carrió feels her former ally abandoned her when times got tough, and now wants to take advantage of her resurgence in the polls. Estenssoro, on her part, blames Ca-rrió for being too inflexible.
But beggars can’t be choosers, the saying goes. And thus Civic Coalition Senator Estenssoro disembarked in UNEN shores as part of economist Martín Lousteau’s faction that battled against Carrió’s ticket as part of the August 11 primaries.
As opposed to national candidates for Congress, Buenos Aires City authorities did not sign on to join the primaries for local candidates.
Therefore, political forces could determine their ticket slots however they saw fit. In the case of UNEN, one of the few fronts that submitted its selection process to the people’s vote, City slots were assigned to each UNEN faction based on their share of votes for the Lower House.
Once distributed, each political faction could choose who it wanted to run in the slots they held.
After La Alameda civil association director Vera was picked to head the Legislature ticket for Ca-rrió’s front, the second slot was reserved for someone from the UNEN faction Suma +.
That’s how Senator Estenssoro, whose term in the Senate is ending in December, unexpectedly showed up as part of a last minute agreement on behalf of the alliance between Lousteau and a Radical Party faction.
Witnesses to the first time the UNEN iron ladies met face to face during the party’s official candidate presentation say the two were polite to each other before they locked themselves in a room with other candidates to prepare for the smiling-faces moment before the cameras.
In the end, UNEN aides suggest the veteran politicians know they need each other: Estenssoro to stay in major league politics after December and Carrió to ensure a strong figure in the local ticket behind first-timer Vera.
This may not be an all-out conflict between former allies. In fact, it looks more like a pseudo-Cold War with an electoral goal rather than a nuclear red bottom that ensures mutual deterrence. At least for now.
Cabandié’s quarrel explodes in social networks.
A video that was spread yesterday through social networks showed Victory Front (FpV) legislator Juan Cabandié arguing with a Border Guard female officer after she had threatened him with seizing his vehicle for not having the obligatory insurance. Images showed how current Lower House candidate phoned an unidentified “Martín”, allegedly a Security Ministry official, to require a punishment to the guard for being “such out of place” in the way she adressed him. Though the Kirchnerite lawmaker recognized the authenticity of the video, he later added it was just a series of edited sequences from a longer 40-minute episode in which officers had asked for bribes for letting him go.