In an effort to quell lingering tensions within the ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP) following the candidate registration last Saturday that left Sergio Massa as its main candidate, Cristina Kirchner (CFK) met with former presidential hopeful Daniel Scioli, while President Alberto Fernández and other members of the alliance asked to keep the peace and strive for unity.
The government held its first full cabinet meeting in months on Wednesday. According to Chief of Staff Agustín Rossi, who spoke in a press conference after the encounter, Fernández asked ministers to “strengthen their work.”
During the meeting, the president’s focused on “unity”, after the intense negotiations to decide candidacies amidst debates within the coalition whether they would field more than one presidential ticket in the primaries or not. Although the peronist faction of UxP decided on Economy Minister Sergio Massa as its only presidential candidate, social leader Juan Grabois will run against him in the primaries. Grabois is not expected to win.
“Together for our homeland, we shared a new National Cabinet meeting. Working for Argentina’s present and future is the way to keep growing,” Fernández tweeted.
Cristina Kirchner, meanwhile, met with Daniel Scioli in her office at the Senate, stating that they’ve known each other since they both began as national deputies in 1997.
“He told me that it’s his calling to help and collaborate as a comrade”, she tweeted about their encounter.
“Continue working, that’s what me have to do.”
In addition to his meeting with Kirchner to give an image of unity, Scioli also met with Massa this Thursday.
The minister received the ambassador at the ministry building entrance, which was seen by some on the economic team as an “uncommon” gesture by Massa to thank Scioli, according to Télam.
Conflict over the candidacies in the ruling coalition reached its peak in the hours prior to the registration deadline, but didn’t stop there. CFK spoke about the electoral behind-the-scenes on Monday during an event she shared with Massa to repatriate a plane used for “death flights” during Argentina’s last dictatorship.
“The president was carrying the torch for the PASO, but we need context comprehension when we look at society and the political context,” she said, pointing out that fifteen governors had called for a unified ticket earlier this month, meaning a single list of candidates.
“Yet until Friday, we had Social Development minister [Victoria Tolosa Paz] bidding to compete in the primaries against the Buenos Aires Governor [Axel Kicillof], as well as our Ambassador to Brazil [Daniel Scioli] who wanted to be a presidential candidate,” she said.
Tolosa Paz said she felt “mistreated” by the vice president’s words.
“When Cristina wants to hit you, she hits hard. What she said yesterday [referring to Monday] was a total blow. I felt it, but you can’t deny how badly she interpreted how unity was achieved,” she told Radio 10 on Tuesday.
“Denying my trajectory and making it look like [Scioli and me] were in the PASO for a mere for two positions is in very bad taste,” the now national deputy candidate added. Even though she said she doesn’t care what the vice president thinks of her, she will “continue to stick her neck out” for her.
Senator Oscar Parrilli, former presidency secretary for both Cristina and Néstor Kirchner, told Futurock radio that the peronist faction closer to Alberto Fernández “will have to give explanations to Scioli” as to why political figures like Tolosa Paz or Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero were chosen to compete for a seat in Congress, while the ambassador to Brazil was left off all ballots.
Speaking on behalf of the president, Vice Chief of Staff Juan Manuel Olmos denied they “stole” Scioli’s spot on the ballot. “In a ticket registration deadline there are always going to be people who are not satisfied. No one stole anything from anyone,” he told La Política Online. He added that Fernández proposed Scioli lead the Parlasur deputy candidates list, but he declined.
In response to all this back-and-forth within the ruling coalition, national deputy Leopoldo Moreau uploaded a video on his YouTube channel asking his fellow UxP members to stop arguing. “We are not each other’s adversaries. Let’s stop this self-destructive attitude,” he pleaded.
“The adversary is in front of us, and is dangerous. It’s willing to put social peace on the line, and even cut down our democracy. In front of us are people who say the answer to Argentina’s problems is ‘jail or bullet’ to those who protest for their rights. […] I ask you to not leave our homeland alone,” he said.
-with information from Télam