LatinNews Daily - 16 May 2023

ARGENTINA: Opposition tensions break out over electoral setbacks

On 15 May Argentina’s opposition Propuesta Republicana (PRO) held a party summit to discuss the provincial election defeats at the hands of the ruling Partido Justicialista (PJ, Peronists) the previous day.


The PJ won the gubernatorial elections held in the provinces of Salta in north-western Argentina, La Pampa (central), and Tierra del Fuego (far south). While this is a far cry from presaging a victory for the nationally ruling left-of-centre Frente de Todos (FdT) coalition, of which the PJ is by far the largest member, in the presidential elections in October, it set nerves jangling within the right-of-centre opposition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) coalition, which had a night to forget.

  • There was very little to celebrate for the JxC in the elections. It suffered heavy defeats at the hands of Peronist incumbents in Salta and Tierra del Fuego and a closer defeat in La Pampa. There is a sense of frustration within the JxC that the political divisions and economic mismanagement that have characterised the national government led by President Alberto Fernández failed to translate into a boost for the opposition coalition at a provincial level on 14 May.
  • This fed into the mutual recriminations on show during the PRO summit between two of the main presidential aspirants for the JxC (both from within the PRO): the mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, and former federal security minister Patricia Bullrich.
  • Supporters of Rodríguez Larreta blamed Bullrich for the heavy defeat in the gubernatorial elections in Salta, criticising her decision to back Virginia Cornejo, politically aligned with her, as the running mate for Miguel Nanni of the PRO’s JxC partner Unión Cívica Radical (UCR), who lost heavily to the PJ incumbent Gustavo Sáenz. Bullrich, for her part, accused Rodríguez Larreta of having no electorate and adopting a strategy to court moderate Peronists.

Looking Ahead: There is some concern within the JxC that if the PJ builds up momentum with a string of gubernatorial victories in the run-up to the presidential contest it could impact its prospects, but potentially more damaging would be public shows of disunity within the opposition coalition afterwards.

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