Buenos Aires City Mayor and presidential candidate Horacio Rodríguez said on Sunday that his opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) has been holding talks with political leaders such as Juan Schiaretti, José Luis Espert, and Margarita Stolbizer with a view to expanding the alliance in the run-up to this year’s elections.
Schiaretti, Espert and Stolbizer all represent groups that do not currently hold firm alliances with either of the main coalitions, JxC or the ruling Peronist Frente de Todos. However, Patricia Bullrich, Larreta’s rival for the JxC presidential nomination, has voiced her opposition to bringing representatives of non-Kirchnerist Peronism into the fold.
“The conversations with national referents such as Juan Schiaretti, José Luis Espert or Margarita Stolbizer have the sole objective of guaranteeing change in Argentina,” Larreta wrote in a statement published to social media on Sunday afternoon.
Schiaretti, governor of Cordoba province, is Peronist but opposed to kirchnerism. He was elected to the role in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 with 57% of the vote, and cannot serve a third consecutive term. Bringing him into the fold would strengthen JxC in Cordoba, Argentina’s second-largest city with a population of 1.3 million.
Schiaretti’s team was contacted for comment.
“In the case of Juan Schiaretti, [the negotiation] in no way goes against our intention of winning the province and the city of Cordoba with Luis Juez and Rodrigo de Loredo, two excellent candidates I’m honored to support,” Larreta continued. JxC and Schiaretti are rivals at provincial level.
“Argentina needs a very profound program of change,” said Bullrich in an interview with la Nación TV channel, opposing the incorporation of Schiaretti. “If we end up being a vague, imprecise thing, where someone comes and defends the trade union laws as they are, or the political model as it is, then what’s the point?”
Larreta’s Radical Civic Union (UCR) coalition partners, Gerardo Morales and Martin Lousteau, both posted messages supporting the expansion of alliances – but stopped short of backing an alliance with Schiaretti. “Juntos por el Cambio has to keep expanding as we have done in the past… We have to leave egos to one side and work on program-based agreements, seeking consensus that allows us to govern better,” tweeted Lousteau, a Radical senator.
JxC representatives are expected to meet this afternoon at the Radical Party headquarters to debate the issue.
Liberals and centrists
Espert, currently a national deputy for Buenos Aires Province, is a liberal economist who founded the party Avanza Libertad. In March, he said that he was in talks with JxC to join forces, although he hoped they would form a new coalition if the alliance worked out. He ran in the 2019 presidential elections and secured 1.47% of the vote.
Stolbizer, also a national deputy for Buenos Aires Province, is a centrist who split from the Radical party in 2007 and formed the party Generación para un Encuentro Nacional (GEN). She ran for president in 2015, securing 2.5% of the vote.
After saying that the government would be “remembered as a great failure”, Rodríguez Larreta argued that “we need to broaden the space of change that we started […] In fact, [former president Mauricio Macri] and the PRO, the Civic Coalition and Radicalism in 2015 created this space with that conviction: together we’re more than the sum of our parts.”
JxC is the continuation of the coalition Cambiemos (Let’s Change), which emerged as a new political space opposed to Kirchnerism in 2015, triumphing with the election of Mauricio Macri as president that year. Its major parties are the right-wing PRO, of which Larreta and Macri are members, and the centrist UCR, as well as smaller parties such as the Civic Coalition.