Salta, La Pampa and Tierra del Fuego governors win re-election

After Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling, San Juan held partial elections and Tucumán's polls were suspended entirely

The three incumbent governors of Tierra del Fuego, La Pampa and San Juan provinces won reelection in last night’s local elections, beating candidates from opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC). President Alberto Fernández welcomed the victories – but given the dynamics of provincial elections, the results cannot be taken as a predictor of this year’s national elections.

In Tierra del Fuego, which has been autonomous since 1990 and held its ninth local elections yesterday, Gustavo Melella of the Forja Party, a member of the Frente de Todos (FdT) ruling coalition, scored 51% of the vote

“Today, a new chapter in the history of our province begins, in which we will keep building a Tierra del Fuego that looks to the growing future,” Melella said, celebrating his victory. “We renew our commitment with our beloved province.”

Melella’s background is with the centrist Radical Civic Union party (UCR), which is a member of JxC at national level, but he is also a Kirchnerist, creating a political identity known as  K Radical. He has been governor of the province since 2019. His rival Héctor Stefani of Propuesta Republicana (PRO), JxC’s main party, came a distant second with 11%. 

Salta Governor Gustavo Sáenz of the Gustavo Gobernador alliance won by a similar margin, securing 48% of the votes against 17% for JxC’s Miguel Nanni. Although Sáenz is not explicitly tied to FdT or JxC, he is a close ally and personal friend of Economy Minister Sergio Massa.

“I will keep fighting for our people and working indefatigably to put Salta in the position it deserves,” Sáenz said.

In La Pampa, Governor Sergio Ziliotto of the Peronist Frente Justicialista Pampeano won with 47% of the vote, while JxC’s Martín Berhongaray got 42%. 

Ziliotto said felt an “enormous joy” for “having achieved unity within Peronism in the province”, and added that he hoped the victory would be reflected at national level. 

San Juan had to suspend its gubernatorial elections after the Supreme Court ruled five days before the vote that current Governor Sergio Uñac, who was going for a third term in office, was not eligible to run again because of constitutional term limits. The decision sparked political uproar, with Fernández calling the Court “anti-democratic.” 

However, the province elected other local authorities yesterday, including 19 mayors and 19 municipal councilors. Peronism won 15 out of 19 mayorships, obtaining over 50% of the votes, but JxC won over the provincial capital from its current Peronist authorities. 

“The Court has twisted many things, but it hasn’t been able to twist the San Juaninos’ will,” said Uñac in a speech last night celebrating the results. “Members of the Court don’t know the sanjuaninos, what we eat, how we live, what we need.” 

Local elections scheduled for this Sunday in the northern province of Tucumán were postponed in their entirety because, as with Uñac, the Supreme Court’s ruling deemed sitting Governor Juan Manzur ineligible to run for vice governor because of constitutional term limits.

National reception

Fernández expressed his support for last night’s outcomes. Referring to San Juan, he said that “a precautionary measure should never again harm popular will and fail to respect the federalism in our Constitution.”

Fernández also congratulated Sáenz for winning the governorship in Salta, saying that he would “continue to work side by side” with the re-elected provincial leader. 

JxC presidential candidates Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Patricia Bullrich greeted the local candidates who won mayorships and council seats. 

Larreta criticized the voting system used in San Juan and five other provinces, which allows parties to present multiple ballots for the same position and then transfer all votes for the party’s unsuccessful candidates to its candidate with the most votes once they have been counted. Larreta said that the outcome of the election shows that the system “needs to be changed by a more transparent and representative one.” 


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