Opposition leaders jockey for position ahead of August presidential primaries

Former BA province governor María Eugenia Vidal suggests she’ll toss her hat in the ring - but some colleagues are betting on Macri.

by Buenos Aires Herald
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Deputy and former Buenos Aires provincial governor, María Eugenia Vidal, told press over the weekend that she wants to be president. However, deputy Cristiano Ritondo said the only candidate he’d be backing would be ex-president Mauricio Macri.

The pair’s comments suggest a heated debate within the opposition coalition, Juntos por el Cambio, with several leaders likely to vie for position in August’s presidential primaries.

“I feel that my cycle in Buenos Aires city, which I fulfilled with Mauricio Macri, has come to an end,” she said in an interview with Infobae. “Today, I can give far more to the transformation process at national level […] I’d like, and I’ve said this publicly, to be president.” 

“We’ll see whether it’s this election or others,” Vidal added.

On Sunday, her colleague Cristian Ritondo backed his mentor, former president Mauricio Macri, telling Radio Rivadavia: “If Mauricio were to decide to be president again, I think it’s very difficult to imagine someone within the internal contest who could face him.”

He added that he did not think Vidal or Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta could beat the former president. Macri spent the weekend in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, presenting his new book.

Presidential primaries are scheduled for August 13, when voters choose which candidate from the electoral coalitions will fight for the presidency. While the lists have yet to be defined, Juntos por el Cambio has a number of likely candidates, including Larreta, Macri, Vidal, and Macri’s former security minister, Patricia Bullrich.

In the face of a deep split between President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the ruling Frente de Todos coalition is also likely to select its presidential candidate in the primaries.  

In 2019, the Juntos por el Cambio and Frente de Todos coalitions only fielded one presidential ticket each, and a strong vote for the Fernández-Kirchner ticket in the primaries was a powerful advance indicator that Frente de Todos would win the December presidential elections. However, the current fragmented political landscape makes such unity less likely in 2023.

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