Economy Minister Sergio Massa has found himself in the middle of an intensifying dispute over presidential primaries in the week leading up to the congress of his party, Frente Renovador.
The infighting centers around whether the ruling Frente de Todos coalition should choose a single candidate or allow several presidential hopefuls to compete in the August 13 primaries.
Although Massa hasn’t confirmed it, he has been widely touted as a possible presidential candidate for Frente de Todos. However, last month, during the annual summit of the United States Chamber of Commerce in Argentina, when asked about the possibility of running for the top office himself, the Economy Minister said he would watch the process “from the sidelines” if Frente de Todos presents more than one candidate to compete in primaries, rather than selecting a single candidate.
“Exposing in primary elections whether the government has differences or not seems to me like a very serious mistake,” he said at the event. “It generates uncertainty for the people.”
His comments were widely interpreted to mean that the minister would not stand if it meant competing against his coalition-mates.
During a summit this week, Frente de Todos provincial governors also called for the coalition to field a single candidate in the primaries. These are compulsory, but parties and coalitions can choose to present just one candidate.
“Candidate that synthesizes everything”
However, President Alberto Fernández doesn’t agree, and shows no signs of budging. “If there is no candidate that synthesizes everything, let the most voted candidate emerge in primary elections,” he said a month ago during a press conference in La Rioja.
Fernández-backed Social Development Minister Victoria Tolosa Paz also chimed in. “It’s incredible that the ‘Front of Everyone’ wants to become the ‘Front of a few’,” she said on Wednesday during an interview with Radio 10. “I’m afraid of being part of a political front that shies away from people’s participation and that is afraid of the popular vote.”
Tolosa Paz is running for governor of Buenos Aires, and supports Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli’s bid for the Presidency.
Apart from Massa and Scioli, other potential candidates in the Frente de Todos are Interior Minister Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro, social leader Juan Grabois, Chief of Staff Agustín Rossi and Buenos Aires governor Axel Kicillof.
Rossi and Grabois have formally launched their bids, while Scioli has repeatedly expressed his intent to run.
The head of the Chamber of Deputies and Frente Renovador leader, Cecilia Moreau, who is close to Massa, did not hold back today when asked about the possibility of the Minister resigning due to the infighting.
“I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t want to say it’s the case, either,” Moreau said today in an interview with Radio La Red. “But I see him [Massa] with a significant level of frustration.”
However, an Economy Ministry source told the Herald that there is “nothing” to Moreau’s statements, and that “Massa will continue to work as he always did.”
“He [Massa] cannot be Economy Minister of a government that is spreading nonsense through the media during primary elections when economic stability is at risk,” Moreau said today.
Economic tension seems to be the order of the day – apart from international reserve scarcity, record-high inflation, and constant bank runs, consulting firms predict an extreme bank run against the peso if libertarian presidential hopeful Javier Milei does well in the primaries, due to his “dollarization” proposal.
Tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Massa is expected to close the Frente Renovador congress in the Arenas stadium, in Tortuguitas, Buenos Aires.
“It’s key that, at our June 10 congress regarding the backing of candidates, we determine whether or not we participate in the Frente de Todos and how the Frente is designed,” Massa said a month ago.
Sergio Massa took office in the Economy Ministry last August, after serving as head of the Deputy Chamber from 2019.
Massa had walked away from his alliance with Kirchnerism in 2013. They remained apart until 2019, when they joined forces with other political parties to create the Frente de Todos coalition that would eventually defeat then-president Mauricio Macri.