Just like in 2017, when they celebrated a non-existent win against Cristina Kirchner in the primaries, the Macri administration now wants to avoid a landslide defeat for the president in the upcoming August election, which would complicate the end of his term.
The first objective is to pull out of the race three candidates that could be able to seduce Cambiemos disenchanted voters: Roberto Lavagna, Juan José Gómez Centurión and José Luis Espert.
Although the latter two would seem insignificant, they are both front runners in the official polls. "With three points between these two, two points are taken from Macri, because only one voting electorate is highlighted", they explain.
Their own speeches confirm this thesis: the former Chief of Customs Gómez Centurión presents himself as an admirer of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. He is vocal against abortion and sexual education; whereas the ultraliberal economist travels across the country asking to adjust "politics and unions" in a way Cambiemos did not dare to.
Besides, Vidal would also lose votes in her hand to hand confrontation with Axel Kicillof, Cristina's former finance minister, forcing her to negotiate a deal with Sergio Massa that never came to be.
Lavagna does the most harm: the most worrying predictions in the Casa Rosada estimate that he can steal between 4 and 6 points from Macri, considering the voters from large cities who supported Cambiemos in 2015. These voters suffered the loss of purchasing power, but they are still anti Kirchner.
"It is a vote that Macri would take back in a second round, but we cannot give it away in August and be left behind by the two Fernández", leaders of Cambiemos have admitted. Oddities from the Argentinean electoral system: without solid political fronts, which can settle candidacies during the caucuses, the August primaries have become a national poll to place figures in the public eye.
A defeat for Macri and Vidal then can raise the temperature in the financial stock markets, which are inclined to deliver messages after the primaries. Cristina knew this in September 2011, when she saw the dollar price go up after a landslide victory and to which she reacted with an exchange block that ruined her second term.
In 2017, more than one official spokesperson admitted that celebrating the fake triumph confused the financial operators, thus facilitating Federico Sturzenegger to renew the Lebacs, the white little papers the Central Bank sold by the millions to control inflation, to no avail.
The Casa Rosada celebrated as a triumph of their own the split between Lavagna and Sergio Massa and Juan Manuel Urtubey. This incident, however, did not take him from the campaign trail but indented his political armor, already crippled when most Peronist governors began supporting Alberto Fernández. Even from those who, a few months before, had received him, like Sergio Uñac, from San Juan.
"Urtubey steals less votes from Macri, so will Massa from Cristina, therefore it is still an open question. Lavagna fares better in our constituency", Cambiemos electoral operators said to LPO.
To fade out the economist, Peña looks to complete his ticket with a radical, who might be a woman like Vidal. "That's the only way to pass through Jaime Durán Barba's filter", people close to him joke.
With such a couple he is trying to make radicals forget the idea of an internal election against Macri, and also to strengthen his reelection, and not to play with two fronts, as some members of the party have speculated.
In fact, during the Convention a sector proposed to support Lavagna. Alfredo Cornejo imposed a resolution that guarantees Cambiemos' continuity, but in the final draft of the text he left the door open to the possibility of adding legislative lists "to every Presidential and Vice Presidential pre-candidate list, according to applicable legislation". He never explained fully what the text is after, though.
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