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In sign that CFK could be neutral, PJ names hopefuls in new leadership

Jujuy Governor Eduardo Fellner (centre), the new chairman of the Peronist party (PJ), gestures yesterday surrounded by other bigwigs. The new leadership of the PJ, by far the biggest party in the Kirchnerite Victory Front coalition, includes practically all of its potential presidential hopefuls.
Seven potential contenders named honorary vice-presidents of the PJ

The Peronist party (PJ) yesterday elected its authorities in what was seen as the first step to start clearing the ground for an internal battle that will determine candidacies for next year’s presidential elections.

The appointment of Jujuy Governor Eduardo Fellner as the PJ president and Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich as his second-in-command suggests President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is not likely to handpick her successor, but rather let her allies fight it out among themselves.

“This marks the beginning of a new era,” Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli said yesterday.

Scioli, Entre Ríos Governor Sergio Urribarri, Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo, Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey, the head of the Victory Front (FpV) Lower House block Julián Domínguez, Defence Minister Agustín Rossi and Senator Aníbal Fernández were also named honorary vice-presidents.

Fellner said their designation as honorary vice-presidents had to do with their condition as “pre-candidates” for president.

Capitanich was one of four PJ vice-presidents named yesterday that included the head of pro-government CGT umbrella labour union and leader of the UOM metalworkers union Antonio Caló, Senator Beatriz Rojkés de Alperovich, lawmaker Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro, a key leader in the Kirchnerite youth organization La Cámpora.

For his part, Capitanich yesterday tried to play down yesterday’s election. Asked if he aspired to move into the Pink House in 2015, the former Chaco governor — once seen as one of the most likely successor to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner — dismissed that possibility.

“No, I’ll keep my position as the Cabinet chief and one of the party’s leaders,” Capitanich said.

Candidates

Yesterday’s Justicialist Party elections revealed there are at least seven Kirchnerites who are seeking to take over the presidency.

“Here are our candidates. We’ll back them,” Fellner said yesterday in Parque Norte before a large audience.

Scioli was the first one to announce that he would compete to succeed the president. His early announcement last year led to tensions with Fernández de Kirchner, which was made evident in a rally held in Lomas de Zamora when the president accused Scioli of “not backing the national project.”

Urribarri is the candidate supported by ultra-loyal Kirchnerites and he was said to be competing with Capitanich to become the president’s choice to succeed her. However, the Cabinet chief — eroded by his months in the government’s line of battle — yesterday dismissed the chance of running next year.

Kirchnerites also support Randazzo, who months ago said that if he could improve trains he would like to run as a presidential candidate. Transport in the country appears to be a hot potato, especially in times when a trial for the 51 deaths in the so-called Once station tragedy is being held.

Urtubey has also launched his candidacy.

“I want to be the president of all Argentines,” Urtubey confessed in a radio interview in March.

“I want to compete in the PASO primaries. I want to take all the debates existing within Peronism and to elect the better candidate. I hope I’ll be that candidate but if someone is chosen, I’ll accept it,” he then added.

Opposition

Up to now, the president has not revealed any preference to select a candidate to compete with those opposition leaders who have already expressed their intention to run for the highest office in the land.

Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa, who won last year’s legislative elections in Buenos Aires province, is almost certain to compete against whichever candidate emerges out of the PJ. In October last year, Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri announced that he would stand in the presidential elections and he is still dividing waters among the non-Peronist FA-UNEN front, where some candidates want to seal an alliance with him, although that possibility is strongly rejected by the centre-left members of the alliance.

Within the front, former Fernández de Kirchner’s vice-president Julio Cobos also confirmed his intentions as well as the Radical Party chairman Ernesto Sanz. Senator Fernando “Pino” Solanas also said that he would like to head the FA-UNEN front ticket and his ally, Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, will also probably take part in the internal contest, although the firebrand lawmaker has also said she would like to run to succeed Scioli in Buenos Aires province.

Herald staff with DyN, Télam

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