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Sanz sees no defections to Massa’s camp

Head of Renewal Front and newly elected congressman Sergio Massa in a file photo.
By Marina Wertheimer
Herlad Staff

Leaders of the Radical Party deny that they plan to join forces with rebel Peronists

After several meetings last week between Renewal Front (FR) leader Sergio Massa and inland mayors from the Radical Party (UCR), officials of the latter party denied that they plan to join forces with the rebel Peronists. According to UCR Chairman Ernesto Sanz if there are meetings between members of his party and Massa “it is just because they are educated people.”

Cross-national meetings with different political forces, pictures with farmer and union leaders, press releases, statements on TV and radio, are part of Massa’s strategy to show that his coalition, which is based in Buenos Aires province, has nationwide reach and is capable of succeeding the Kirchnerite government in 2015.

As a new front, which was constituted for the midterm elections in October 2013, the FR is nourished by different political groups, mainly non-Kirchnerite Peronists and, to a lower extent, former UCR members. The main figures that compose the so-called “Radicals in the Front” sector are San Isidro Mayor Gustavo Posse and Junín Mayor Mario Meoni (both in Buenos Aires province.)

Earlier last month, Meoni made public the strategy Massa supposedly entrusted him with: to woo UCR leaders. “We will go for all the best UCR members, who are neither contained nor listened by the party,” Meoni told the press early in January. The reasons some Radicals want to join the FR looks simple. “The UCR does not represent an alternative today because it is governing districts. They have no ambition to lead the nation any more,” Meoni said.

“There is no transfer at all. There is nothing to prove it, a kind of myth was created,” Sanz told the Herald. “The only mayors with Massa are the one of San Isidro, Junín and a few more who can’t really be called Radicals any more, because they left the party long ago,” Sanz said.

“Just for the picture”

In recent weeks there was a lot of speculation about Massa’s meetings with Radical mayors from provincial towns . But beyond the meetings and photo-opportunities, no effective defection was confirmed.

Last week, Massa travelled to Córdoba City to meet with Mayor Ramón Mestre, who belongs to the UCR. Three weeks before, Massa had a meeting with Ushuaia Mayor, Federico Sciurano, also a Radical. In both cases, Massa was photographed with the officials and sending out signals to the press ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for 2015. But later on, both Radicals denied any possible coalition.

“With both of them Massa took pictures, sending out signals of a transfer attempt. But what Massa is doing is generating a false idea and if this is his way of political construction, it will be clear that these photos do not have any authority,” Sanz said.

A media strategy?

The UCR appears to be underestimating the importance of Massa’s meetings with Radicals arguing that they are no more than a media strategy that, according to Sanz, is partly “false.”

Radical lawmaker Oscar Aguad from Córdoba province, acknowledges that “Massa has a very smart political strategy.” But according Aguad, “it is nothing more than an electoral bet. He lacks a government programme,” Aguad said.

According to Doctor Darío Rodríguez, political scientist at CERI-France and Latin American policies researcher, “the first thing that distinguishes Massa is his pragmatic leadership and his ability to rally support from across the entire political spectrum.” And Rodríguez said that the way of doing this is through “a diluted message in pragmatic-ideological terms, adapted to the middle class taste as media message-consumer.”

Sanz added: “It is an artificial construction, for the media, he might have been advised by image consultants. But in the long term, that kind of strategy always fails. In Córdoba, like in any other province, Massa will need to find real allies if he wants to rule the country.”

According to Sanz, “before travelling to any province, Massa telephones its mayors and says to them ‘I will go for a visit to greet you.’ It is nothing more than that.”

But why, then, do Radical mayors greet Massa if they do not have any interest to join his political coalition? “Because Radical mayors, apart from being very good political managers, are also well educated people,” he said.

@WertheimerM

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