PRO, UCR set to clinch deals
Potential accords in Córdoba prompt infighting within non-Peronist UNEN front
With a year to go before the PASO primaries, the PRO party led by Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri and the Radical (UCR) party have already signed electoral deals in 10 provinces — a scenario that has led to infighting inside the non-Peronist alliance known as Broad Front-UNEN. Last week’s photo-op between Macri and several UCR politicians, who will be joining forces for the elections in the Córdoba province district of Marcos Juárez, has been signalled as the main example of what conservative Radicals and PRO party leaders aim to replicate throughout the province and, eventually, the country.
Local or provincial alliances have also been established in Mendoza, Tucumán, La Pampa and Catamarca provinces. Radical candidates Eduardo Costa (Santa Cruz) and Julio Martínez (La Rioja) may also receive support from the PRO party, whose presence is virtually non-existent in those districts.
In Córdoba, national lawmaker Oscar Aguad, Río Cuarto Mayor Juan Jure and Córdoba City Mayor Ramón Mestre all favour an alliance with Macri’s political force, with the two former even wanting to include centre-left Senator Luis Juez in the talks — although Mestre resists such aspirations.
The Córdoba mayor’s administration has been plagued with corruption scandals and his public image among Córdoba City’s inhabitants is at an all-time low. But Mestre remains as the top UCR leader in the province (polls reveal Mestre’s image is still strong in the province’s interior), so Macri allies feel they “need” him in the talks.
The Radical party ended second in the province in last year’s midterms — just four points behind the Peronist Party (PJ). The PRO party mustered 14 percent of the votes.
“UNEN needs to dare to welcome new forces. The PRO could has a minimum 10 points, which may decide the results of a gubernatorial election,” Aguad said.
“We have until December — no more than that. There’s four more months two go,” a PRO party source told La Voz del Interior newspaper yesterday.
In La Pampa, Radical Senator Juan Carlos Marino said that an accord with PRO at the provincial level was needed to win the elections. “But at the national level I will respect whatever the (Radical) party decides,” he said.
The UCR candidate in the district is Santa Rosa Mayor Francisco Torroba, who can surely use some “assistance” from the PRO, who mustered almost 20 percent of the votes last year by setting up a ticket headed by former soccer player Carlos Mac Allister.
In Entre Ríos, many parties opposed to Kirchnerite governor Sergio Urribarri are willing to present a joint ticket headed by farming leader Alfredo De Angeli.
Problems arise in provinces holding their gubernatorial elections the same day as the general elections, like Mendoza. The Radical Alfredo Cornejo, mayor of Godoy Cruz, is on good terms with Macri. But should a PRO-UCR deal be signed in the district, it is still unclear which national candidate will be on the ticket — Macri or the Broad Front-UNEN contender?
Things are clearer in the northern Formosa province, ruled by Victory Front (FpV) ally Gildo Insfrán since 1995.
“Whoever wants to win the elections, needs to join forces with everyone else. That’s the only way of getting Insfrán out of office,” Radical leader and gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Buryaille said.
During the last few days, Macri has been rallying in the key province of Buenos Aires, which makes up 38 percent of the national vote. There, he took aim at both Governor Daniel Scioli and Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa. (In turn, Scioli — who also wants to run for president — began campaigning in the City by visiting Villa 21 in the neighbourhood of Barracas.)
BA province is a critical district for Macri. Last year, PRO failed to present a ticket of its own while its leaders insisted they had signed a verbal deal with Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa, which several Massa allies dismissed during and after the elections.
Radical leaders are not performing well, either, especially after the ill-fated joint ticket between UCR lawmaker Ricardo Alfonsín and dissident Peronist Francisco de Narváez that proved to be a failure for both forces. GEN party leader Margarita Stolbizer, UNEN’s strongest performer, has already said she will not run for governor this time.
However, a UCR-PRO deal in BA province is far from near, as centre-left Radicals are still strong in the district. Some of the main Broad Front-UNEN leaders in the district, like Stolbizer, have voiced their opposition to any kind of deal with Macri.
Other UNEN politicians linked to progressive stances, like Libres del Sur and Project South led by Fernando “Pino” Solanas have ruled out any chances of setting up an alliance with Macri.
Recent polls for the 2015 general elections show a technical tie between Macri, Massa and Scioli, with each of them mustering some 20-25 percent of the votes should the elections be held today. This has led the City mayor to attack his competitors in recent media appearances.