The Radical Party (UCR) congress reaffirmed its commitment to Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) and expressed support for expanding the opposition coalition, a decision that has been at the center of infighting between many JxC factions. Jujuy governor and UCR president Gerardo Morales closed the four-hour meeting by saying that expansion is the path forward and that the coalition will continue to grow “until the last minute.”
“Diversity is what gives you energy to generate change and muscle to transform things, win, and then win again,” he said to the 300 party representatives gathered at Parque Norte, a sports campus in Buenos Aires City.
Morales, a strong proponent of expanding JxC, confirmed that he and national deputy Facundo Manes will both be competing as presidential candidates for the UCR in the upcoming PASO primaries.
The first to speak was Congress President Gastón Manes, Facundo’s brother, who questioned the party’s role in past elections and called on the UCR to not be anyone’s “caboose,” a reference to the back-seat coalition status the party felt it had during former President Mauricio Macri’s administration.
“There’s a chance to become protagonists in the construction of a political alternative to populism, be it right or left wing,” he added.
In his speech, Facundo Manes said he is in favor of expanding JxC, but warned that the timing and disposition must be handled carefully.
“I think UCR has to lead [a presidential ticket] and compete with PRO. Radicalism has to lead.”
Congress members published a resolution stating their call to expand JxC with different political sectors, something they had already approved in previous party meetings in 2019 and 2022.
“The proposed parties must be in agreement with government plans laid out by the UCR voted today,” says the document.
This position is in line with Buenos Aires City Mayor and PRO presidential candidate Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who has clashed with fellow PRO candidate Patricia Bullrich over potentially adding Córdoba Peronist Governor Juan Schiaretti to the coalition. Among those who also oppose Schiaretti’s entrance into JxC are many UCR Córdoba party leaders, who have to compete against him in the upcoming provincial elections on June 25.
“When you’re 20 days away from an election, and they come and tell you there are discussions [about adding] the person you’ve been competing against for the last 24 years, it’s like being woken up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep,” said Mario Negri, Córdoba national deputy and UCR member, before entering the party congress Monday afternoon.
“You cannot add a rival in the middle of the elections. That’s off the table. You can’t just add people for the sake of adding them, there has to be a common goal. If not, once you become the government, you’ll have a bunch of people who think differently and the bloc will break,” he later tweeted.
Mendoza senator and gubernatorial candidate Alfredo Cornejo adopted the same position in his congress speech. “[Schiaretti] wants to be part of another front. JxC is our brand. It’s what kept us together all this time. We’ve already expanded the coalition with Ricardo López Murphy and José Luis Espert.”
The Herald reached out to party leaders for comment on what would happen to JxC if Schiaretti joins the coalition.
The congress members also released a document unanimously approved by all 300 representatives where they not only laid out their government program but also criticized the ruling Frente de Todos (FdT) administration and libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei, without naming him, by ruling out measures he supports like the elimination of the Central Bank or loosening regulations on gun control.
Among the UCR’s main proposals are lowering inflation, stabilizing the economy, eliminating currency controls as soon as possible, strengthening the peso, simplifying the tax system, promoting electromobility and better use of critical minerals for the energy transition like lithium and copper, developing a sustainable mining model and seizing the opportunities made available by Vaca Muerta, among others.