Scioli plays his own hand at least for a week
Analysts say governor ‘overacts alignment’ with CFK while portraying himself as unity candidate
Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli held a sit-down meeting yesterday with several Radical party mayors and UCR president Ernesto Sanz in what was widely seen as another demonstration of his “pro-dialogue” stance toward other leaders, a strategy for the 2015 presidential race.
The meeting was seen as particularly significant considering it took place a day after Scioli met with dissident Peronist leader José Manuel de la Sota.
“Radical mayors and lawmakers have been there with me through the hardest times,” Scioli said minutes after the meeting that took place at the local Government House in La Plata, the provincial capital.
“Solutions for local leaders” were discussed during the meeting, Sanz added.
While talking to reporters after the meeting with Scioli, Sanz thanked the governor “for his good predisposition” to talking.
“He has proved once again that he’s a man of dialogue,” the UCR chairman said.
Saladillo Mayor Carlos Gorosito, in turn, said the meeting was “a positive step in itself.”
“We were given concrete answers to our demands and we agreed to meet again,” Gorosito told news portal La Tecla.
Also present were Chascomús Mayor Juan Gobbi and Ramallo local leader Walter Santalla, as well as mayors Miguel Lunghi (Tandil), David Hirtz (Adolfo Alsina), Pablo Zubiaurre (Ayacucho), Aníbal Rapallini (Maipú) and a dozen local leaders — all from the Radical ranks.
Although technically a Kirchnerite — he has already announced his decision to run against other Victory Front (FpV) candidates in next year’s PASO primaries — Scioli has been through a series of comings and goings with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration.
He has always cultivated a moderate and unifying political style — a strategy that has proven effective at the polls but has put him at odds with other Kirchnerite leaders, from Lieutenant-Governor Gabriel Mariotto to the head of the FpV caucus in the Lower House Juliana Di Tullio, who in the past have demanded clearer definitions.
“I believe Scioli is trying to appear as a ‘plural’ political figure, able to sit down and talk with other forces, whether they are Peronists or not,” analyst Ricardo Rouvier told the Herald.
“It is part of his campaign strategy — to try to portray himself as a figure that transcends Kirchnerism.”
How long can Scioli maintain this approach without clashing openly with the president?
“It’s a complicated strategy — how to differentiate himself from Kirchnerism without completely removing himself from the Kirchnerite camp,” pollster Graciela Römer told the Herald.
“Scioli has signed on to a pact of complicity with a portion of the electorate. He overacts his alignment with the national government — but people know this identification is not real, but rather part of a strategy.”
Yesterday morning, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich blasted the Córdoba governor following his photo-op with Scioli earlier in the week.
“Some outside (the Peronist party) are trying to criticize what we’re doing, but they should check first how many votes they received,” Capitanich told reporters during his daily press conference at Government House.
It was a nod at De la Sota’s bittersweet victory in his native Córdoba, where his candidate Juan Schiaretti mustered little more than 26 percent of the votes, a far cry from what the governor needed to consolidate his position as a presidential hopeful.
“There is no future here for those who make their own way,” Lower House Speaker Julián Domínguez said last year. Domínguez is aiming to succeed Scioli as governor and during the last few weeks has expressed his “differences” with Scioli’s stances.
Whether staunch Kirchnerites will try to erode the Buenos Aires province governor’s chances in order to benefit candidates who are seen as closer to the head of state — such as Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo or Entre Ríos province Governor Sergio Urribarri — remains to be seen.
“I don’t believe the government will fight Scioli” during the next few months, Rouvier said. “My impression is that Fernández de Kirchner will let the candidates play their own game.”
“The president should avoid getting into the fight too early on,” she added. “Her goal is to bet on a candidate that could allow her to capture a critical mass of votes (in the 2015 general elections) — say, some 20, 25, 30 percentage points.”
However, this does not mean that other candidates will avoid targeting the governor, especially when these attacks may prove useful for their own 2015 bids.