December 11, 2013
Macri, Carrió: a lot at stake in BA City
The winner of the election is likely to emerge as presidential candidate for 2015
The midterm elections in Buenos Aires City will not only define the local and national legislative map of the next two years, but the results will also have clout on a bid by a number of national politicians portraying themselves as solid presidential options ahead of 2015.
Both UNEN frontwoman Elisa Carrió, who is running for the Lower House of Congress, and BA City Mayor Mauricio Macri, the head of district’s ruling centre-right PRO party, will be reading today’s results under that presidential light once the victory and acceptance speeches are done with.
In the end, the local battle may be just a chapter of the larger plot that includes other national key districts like Santa Fe or Córdoba provinces, but it is still coveted ground for any candidate aspiring for the grand presidential prize two years from now.
What is specifically in dispute in BA City?
Three senatorial seats — two for the major force and a third one reserved for the first candidate of the second most-voted for ticket —, 13 of the 25 seats designated to the City in the Lower House of Congress and last but not least, half of the seats in the City Legislature, meaning 30 seats up for grabs.
With these numbers in mind, Macri and Carrió are already doing the maths: they are not only the two potential presidential hopefuls based in Buenos Aires City, but the ones who can win or lose the most according to today’s result in this city.
“On Sunday, please vote the full yellow ticket,” PRO activists urged pedestrians while distributing ballot papers together with coloured umbrellas and PRO t-shirts during the last day of canvassing on Thursday.
Lower House top candidate Sergio Bergman tried to reinforce the message: the three parts of the ballot paper — Senate, Lower House and Legislature nominees — are equally important for PRO’s project, he explained.
In other words, Macri’s camp fears voters will split PRO tickets to combine the senate candidate (current congresswoman Gabriela Michetti and City Public Space minister Diego Santilli) with other options like Carrió and her UNEN candidates for the Lower House.
That would imply collateral damage for both Bergman’s list for Congress and Fernando “Pino” Solanas bid to win the minority Senate seat for UNEN.
In fact, Solanas and Kirchnerite senatorial candidate Daniel Filmus — whose mandate in the Senate ends in December — are in a tight race for that minority seat. Not by chance, UNEN’s campaign focused mostly on criticizing Filmus instead of directing darts at PRO. Filmus preferred to ignore Solana’s blows and take shots at PRO.
However, the angle changes when you look at the Lower House contest. PRO is the political party that risks the greater number of seats: five out of the eight that they currently hold. The ninth is occupied by Patricia Bullrich, once an ally of Carrió but now close to Macri’s camp.
UNEN as a coalition is trying to renew 75 percent of its lawmakers, six of out of eight of those whose term began in 2009 (three of South Project, two Civic Coalition and one Radical Party seat).
Provided they stick together as a caucus, results would impact deeper in their constituency. But no-one can tell whether the coalition will stand united the day after the election.
Finally, Kirchnerism apparently has less at stake regardless of the impact of the accusations of abuse of power against Juan Cabandié (see box).
The reason is simple: only one of the six Kirchnerite seats end their term in December, and it is not even formally an official FpV lawmaker, but ally Carlos Heller’s term. Still the Victory Front needs to win the minority Senate seat if it aims to continue controlling the Upper House next year.
Although many thought her long gone after a disappointing presidential result in 2011, Carrió is back on the political stage and has reunited seven parties in UNEN (the second largest City front): the Civic Coalition, Libres del Sur Movement, Power for Social Space Party, the Socialist Party, the Authentic Socialist Party, South Project and the Radical Party joined forces behind Carrió.
Unexpectedly, Carrió’s star shone bright again during the PASO open primaries in August. According to official results, UNEN was the most voted political force over PRO and they even won in 13 out of 15 City districts.
UNEN went to the primaries with three factions. Carrió’s faction prevailed over the other two UNEN ballots.
UNEN has a lot at stake in the capital, especially in the local Legislature where a total of eight of their 11 seats will be contested.
On the other hand, PRO’s 26 lawmakers in the City Legislature and the three non-party allies that usually vote with them, make it one of the forces that risks proportionally less: 13 seats.
The Kirchnerites meanwhile are fielding two ballots for the City Legislature. FpV and allies totalize between 15 and 16 regular seats in the Legislature. The official FpV ticket is headed by former Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana. But another leftwing Kirchnerite ticket, Alternativa Popular, is led by Pablo Ferreyra.
Alleged abuse of power. The last weeks of the BA City campaign were overshadowed by the lack of political proposals and an extended exchange of accusations over a 40-minute video that was released in several parts by an anonymous YouTube user. The footage showed Victory Front (FpV) legislator Juan Cabandié arguing with a Greater Buenos Aires traffic warden from Lomas de Zamora, Belén Mosquera, over a fine for not carrying the obligatory insurance papers with him. Contenders and opposition leaders labelled the episode as abuse of power and Cabandié had to apologize publicly.