December 8, 2013
Massive ballot splitting raises FpV suspicion
Many Greater Buenos Aires Kirchnerite mayors perform better than rest of ticket
Foreseeing defeat, several Kirchnerite mayors of the Greater Buenos Aires area silently dropped support for Victory Front (FpV) candidate Martín Insaurralde before last Sunday’s midterm elections.
The phenomenon can be traced by comparing provincial results with votes for local legislatures. Normally, there would be little, if any, difference between the two, as current mayors (at least on paper) supported either Insaurralde or Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa — but numbers from last weekend may indicate some kind of “betrayal” between the sheets.
The most notorious example was the Ensenada municipality, where Mayor Mario Secco beat the Renewal Front in the battle for the local legislature after obtaining 49.45 percent of the votes — 14 points more than the national lawmaker list headed by Insaurralde, who obtained 35.7 percent and lost to Massa in the district.
In the Berazategui area, ruled by Kirchnerite mayor Juan Patricio Mussi, there was an eight-point difference between the two lists: the national FpV ticket mustered 43.5 percent of the votes, while the local Kirchnerite list obtained 51.4 percent.
And you, Granados?
Another Greater Buenos Aires district where ballot splitting was massive was Ezeiza, which had been ruled until very recently by provincial Security Minister Alejandro Granados.
Granados has been widely considered a loyal Kirchnerite mayor — a claim that was disputed after her sister, provincial senator Leonor Granados, announced weeks ago she was shifting to Massa’s front.
Therefore, it was not a big surprise when results showed that Granados’ ticket (which had him running as a testimonial candidate) had won the race for the local legislature by more than 20 percentage points, while Insaurralde was actually losing to Massa by just 65 votes, with 84 percent of polling stations reporting.
What happened with the 6 percent of Ezeiza citizens who voted for opposition candidate Massa at the national level and for pro-government Granados locally? Was there a massive, spontaneous ballot splitting in the district or was there something else going on?
A hint may be found in Florencio Varela, where several homes received envelopes containing local tickets supporting local leader Julio Pereyra next to Massa’s national tickets.
In previous weeks, Pereyra had complained because the national government had decided to keep the centre-left Nuevo Encuentro ticket (that also supported President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) in the local race.
Another strange electoral phenomenon took place in Avellaneda, where Mayor Jorge Ferraresi won the local race by more than 17 percentage points — in that district, Insaurralde lost to Massa by 6 points.
Encouraging ballot splitting is a common practice among Peronist mayors of Greater Buenos Aires, who try to “protect” their local legislatures at times when the national and provincial governments are not doing well in the polls.
Local leaders who fear a trickle-down effect may play both sides by setting up different tickets appearing next to two candidates (in this case, Insaurralde and Massa) hoping to receive a little vote from each.
They may also play down their own campaign or try to suggest to the electorate they are not actually “K candidates,” a move that — in the case of popular mayors — end up hurting the overall party performance in the province.
However, percentage of blank votes for local legislatures (6.17 percent last Sunday) more than doubled blank votes in the national lawmaker race. This means dozens — if not hundreds — of thousands of bonaerenses voted for Massa for the Lower House of Congress but did not vote for anybody at the local level.