Cristina in, or Cristina out: that is the question. And one which never seems to find an answer among Peronists.
As President Mauricio Macri got to work for the year, the Peronist movement — a Motley Crew when it comes to ideas and leadership styles — continued airing out its post-2015 grievances.
One issue that never seems to go away is whether former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner should have a place at the helm of any future attempts at opposition against Macri.
“The past can’t come back”, Salta’s governor Juan Manuel Urtubey said on Saturday in an interview with Infobae. The Peronist movement has “no future” with CFK, he said. “If our only option is to say that everything is bad (under Macri) and we have to return to the past (under Cristina), then we’re in trouble”.
“Kirchnerism was a personalised model that was moulded on circumstantial leadership, which got old”, Urtubey, a potential Macri contender in 2019, said. “Peronism, in my opinion, must be better than this”.
Peronists find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the former president, with whom many major Peronist leaders refuse to work or even speak.
CFK’s decisions in the lead up to the 2015 presidential election and her unwillingness to correct or even recognise her administration’s mistakes, are seen as key factors in Macri having won the presidency against former Buenos Aires province governor Daniel Scioli.
However, CFK enjoys a solid base of followers (and votes) that the Peronist movement has struggled to replicate, least of all ignore. In the 2017 mid-terms, the former president and her Citizens United movement — which split from the offical Peronist party, the Justice Party (PJ) — took over 30 percent of the vote in Argentina’s major electoral battleground, Buenos Aires province.
"EVERYBODY'S AT FAULT"
On a separate front, PJ party president José Luis Gioja and former Interior Minister under CFK Florencio Randazzo exchanged words over the weekend regarding the disappointing results at last October’s midterms.
"Everybody's at fault", said Gioja. The party boss also warned that "self criticism should not be done publicly, rather inside the party".
Gioja is known to be working toward reunifying the party and recently expressed optimism that he could bring CFK and former presidential candidate Sergio Massa together for talks, a suggestion that earned him a wave of criticism.
“We have to build a broad front. If there is agreement, then let’s move forward. If not, let’s have primaries”, Gioja said this weekend.
The party president's latest reflections on the midterms were levelled at Randazzo who has accused the PJ hierarchy of “closing down the primaries” and effectively prohibiting him from facing off with CFK.
“Having primaries was what we wanted in 2017”, Randazzo said via Twitter. “But the silence of those leading the PJ legitimised the closing down of the primaries and the creation of a new party (CFK's). This allowed Cambiemos to win. Hopefully in 2019 the same doesn’t happen and we can have a Peronist president”, he concluded.
Confiding in the polls, CFK had refused in mid 2017 to participate in any party primaries. When Randazzo refused to yield to her demands, she took several key PJ party members with her to form Citizens United. Had hers and Randazzo’s votes been combined, the Peronists would have won the majority of votes in Buenos Aires province against Macri’s Cambiemos coalition.