Unión por la Patria announces Massa and Rossi as only presidential ticket

The surprise announcement comes after days of intense political negotiations

By Amy Booth, Facundo Iglesia and Estefanía Pozzo

Ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP) has announced that Economy Minister Sergio Massa will be its presidential candidate with Chief of Staff Agustín Rossi as his Vice President, the coalition announced via social media just before 9 p.m. on Friday. 

The pair will be the bloc’s only presidential ticket. The surprise development rules out candidates including Interior Minister Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro and Tucumán Governor Juan Manzur, who were announced as a ticket by their allies on Thursday, and ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Scioli, who held a campaign launch event some 24 hours beforehand.

Official response

“It’s a decision based on what we think is best for the country,” presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti told the Herald. 

“We are seeing that those who are going to compete in the elections present themselves as authoritarian spaces who reward a governor who has just repressed indigenous peoples,” she continued, referring to Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s Friday announcement that his running-mate will be Jujuy governor Gerardo Morales, just days after a violent police crackdown on protesters in the province. 

“We have to measure up to the times we’re living in,” Cerruti continued. “That’s why [we’ve chosen] unity, behind two great leaders like Massa and Rossi.”

A message Massa sent to a ministry group chat was leaked to media outlets. “The deadline for [presidential lists] is always exciting and cumbersome,” it said. “There is nothing dramatic about them, they’re not a matter of life or death. But making sure the economy keeps working normally and that we keep doing our job is.”

The message then listed some challenges the Ministry has to face, such as the renegotiation of Argentina’s debt with the International Monetary Fund, bond auctions, and the Néstor Kirchner gas pipeline, among others.

“I ask you to remain focused, on Monday we will have to keep fixing the serious issues the economy and the country are facing.”

Primaries versus sole ticket

The viability of Massa’s presidential run had appeared to depend on his capacity to reduce inflation, something he has not managed: inflation was running at 114% inter-annually by the end of May. However, as the economic situation became more complex, his profile grew as a key figure in managing the challenges, according to Dr. Ariadna Gallo, a political sciences researcher with Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council.

For months, Massa made it clear that he was against UxP fielding multiple presidential tickets and having them compete against each other in primaries. “Submitting a government force to division confuses people as to what our path is,” he said in a summit two weeks ago. However, he also added that his party, Frente Renovador, would participate in the upcoming primaries even if the ruling coalition declined to limit itself to a sole candidate.

“I think the best thing for Argentina is unity. But if the decision is that there be primaries, sign us up and we’ll be there,” he said at the time.

The surprise at the announcement lay in the fact that, after Massa conceded he would be willing to run in primaries, many started to look at other possible tickets, Gallo said. “At the last second, with all the fireworks there have been, all the internal comings ang goings, they ended up going for one of the options that was already open.”

Grabois to split?

Earlier today, social leader Juan Grabois withdrew his candidacy, saying he would support Eduardo “Wado” De Pedro’s bid for the presidency. However, Grabois had said that he would run outside the coalition if Massa was UxP’s sole candidate. Minutes after UxP announced their decision, Grabois stated that he intends to run.

“Do not make a mistake. I stand by what I said. We are going to the primaries,” he tweeted. “I am going to be a candidate. We have the constitutional right.”

However, it is not clear whether he intends to run within UxP or not. A spokesperson for Grabois did not immediately respond to the Herald’s request for comment.

Sources close to the matter told the Herald that UxP would have only one candidate in Buenos Aires province, too, as governor Axel Kicillof will seek reelection. However, the definitive confirmation will only come when the electoral tickets are actually presented.

An important question is what sectors of UxP who were backing other candidates will do next. “They will now have to see how to play their cards against the sector heading up the presidency,” Gallo said. “That’s crucial, because we have a candidate who isn’t accepted by all the others.”


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald