December 9, 2013
A bitter victory for De la Sota’s candidate
Schiaretti comes out on top but loses ground from primary election results
Governor José Manuel De la Sota’s Unión por Córdoba party, headed by former governor Juan Schiaretti, came out on top in the country’s second largest electoral district yesterday, mustering 26 percent of votes to secure a seat for himself and two colleagues in Congress. Ninety-two percent of votes had been counted at press time.
The result was a far cry from what De la Sota needed to consolidate his position as a presidential hopeful, with his party falling three percentage points from the August primaries.
Radio anchor Blanca Rossi and current Government Minister Carlos Caserio will take up seats along with Schiaretti in the Lower House.
The Radical Party (UCR) secured second place with 22 percent of votes, gaining two lawmakers for the Lower House: current legislator Oscar Aguad, Quilino Mayor María Soledad Carrizo and Diego Mestre, former governor Ramon Mestre’s brother.
Third place went to the Victory Front (FpV), which attained 15 percent of votes, sealing two seats in Congress. Former University of Córdona Dean Carolina Scotto and current University Policies Secretary Martín Gill will take up their seats in December.
In its first provincial election, Mauricio Macri PRO’s dropped to fourth place from the primaries, losing out on what would have been a second seat, but nonetheless securing one with former soccer referee Héctor Baldassi. The PRO mustered 14 percent of votes.
Córdoba represents 8.7 percent of the country’s electorate with 2.6 million registered voters.
De la Sota, a doubtful candidate
Aligned with centre-right Peronist Governor José Manuel de la Sota, Schiaretti carried non-Kirchnerite Peronism’s victory but saw a worse result than at the primaries, with four percent less votes, raising question marks over De la Sota’s for the presidency in 2015.
“We hope to have a country where dialogue and tolerance are the most important things,” Schiaretti said after voting. “We have campaigned without aggression, and we haven’t replied to any insults.”
De la Sota needed a stronger result to assert his strength within the Peronist Party (PJ) ahead of 2015, and thereby a voice in selecting a candidate. The governor has spoken of his presidential ambition, but the numbers currently do not appear to be on his side.
“This national election is crucial to see what will face Argentina in the future in such a time of conflict,” the governor said after voting. “I hope dialogue between Argentines returns”.
Córdoba is a highly fluctuating district, and Peronism has become significantly polarized since the governor broke away from the Fernández de Kirchner administration in 2011 due to a conflict over federal revenue sharing and pension funds.
Confident of victory, celebrations were underway by 6pm at Unión por Córdoba’s campaign headquarters, with bands playing cumbia music on a stage and several balloons floating in the air.
After 9pm, with the results confirmed, Schiaretti took to the stage and thanked all the supporters present.
UCR, the second political force
Oscar Aguad was unable to lead the provincial UCR to a victory in a province with an established Radical electorate, maintaining the 22 percent result obtained in August. The UCR had mustered 20.17 percent of votes in the 2011 legislative elections.
Like De la Sota, Aguad needed a victory to consolidate his position within the UCR at the national level. Nonetheless, the results show that the UCR is still a force to be reckoned with in a province where Peronism has fractured.
The UCR sealed three seats, with Aguad accompanied by Soledad Carrizo and Diego Mestre.
Aguad, who is a figurehead for the conservative sector of Radicalism, said these elections are “the start of a new path.”
“We need to start changing and take a new path to remove Argentina from continuous impoverishment,” he said. “Argentina is one of the countries that has grown the least in the last few years, and we need to change that.”
FPV’s better performance
The third place obtained by the FpV with Carolina Scotto, the first female dean of the University of Córdoba, and Martín Gill marked improvement for FpV in what has been a tricky province for Kirchnerism. The party was able to better its primaries result by five percentage points.
In the 2009 midterms, after the government’s conflict with the farming sector, which has a strong presence in Córdoba, the FpV only mustered nine percent of votes, compared to the 35.02 percent seen in 2011.
Kirchnerism led a strong campaign against De la Sota’s government with allegations of connivance between police and druglords, arguably improving FPV’s result.
Before voting, Scotto filed a complaint before the Electoral Court alleging numerous schools had invalid old ballots from the primaries.
“It’s a serious issue that was done to confuse voters. We have asked the Electoral Court to consider valid all the votes issued with old ballots,” she said. “We presume those responsible were worried about the result and do not trust the people’s vote.”
PRO’s first effort in Córdoba
The PRO’s first election in Córdoba after the primaries led to its first legislator for the province, even though it earned a similar amount of votes as the primaries. The party led nationally by Mauricio Macri had received 12 percent on October 27 and was only able to improve two percent yesterday.
Former soccer referee Héctor Baldassi reached the bar set by Mauricio Macri, who had predicted his candidate would be the revelation of this year’s elections. The development adds to the 10-year old party’s solid performance in Santa Fe, part of the PRO’s strategy to establish itself in the country’s main electoral districts ahead of the 2015 presidential contest.
Close to obtaining a seat
The Leftists Workers’ Union (FIT) improved the 5.5 percent it obtained in August and jumped to 7 percent, which in the end was not enough for Liliana Olivero to secure a seat in the Lower House.
Luis Juez’ Civic and Social Progessive Front gained three percent of the votes and lost its current three seats in the chamber. Juez decided not to compete for governor in 2015, so the party proposed the re-election of Congressman Ernesto Martínez, followed by councillor Viviana Yawny. The party repeated its weak performance in the primaries by finishing inseventh place.
Vecinalismo Independiente, headed by De la Sota’s ex-wife Olga Riutort obtained four percent of votes, while Civic Coalition-ARI’s ballot with Roberto Cucui managed three percent and Encuentro Vecinal por Córdoba’s ballot with María Marconea two percent.