Argentina: A New Political Party Further Divides the Opposition
3 MINS READJun 15, 2017 | 20:46 GMT
Another party opposed to Argentine President Mauricio Macri is joining the country's October elections. On June 14, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the creation of the Citizen's Unity Party, which will take part in the contest for Congress on Oct. 22. Fernandez said the party was created to oppose Macri's economic policies. She did not say whether she will run for Congress, although she will likely confirm her candidacy for the Senate by June 24. The new party will only increase the divisions within the Argentine opposition, and it could improve the chances for the ruling Cambiemos coalition to hold on to or win more seats in the lower house.
On Aug. 13, party primaries will decide who is going to run for seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. One-third of the upper house and 127 of 257 seats in the lower house will be up for grabs. Macri's coalition risks losing the largest number of seats in the lower house because it holds 40 of the 127 seats that will become available. But in the Senate, 15 of the 24 seats up for a vote are held by the Peronist Front for Victory party. These elections, especially in the lower house, will be key for Macri, who hopes to maintain the political support he needs in Congress to move forward with his economic policies, such as cutting public spending and attracting foreign investment.
Instead of creating another new opposition party, Fernandez could have challenged the current Justicialist Party Senate candidate in the primaries. She would have gone up against her former minister of transportation, Florencio Randazzo. The two figures could also have reached a political agreement where she would lead the party's list for the Senate and Randazzo would lead the list for the lower house. But ultimately, the party could not agree on a list of candidates for the legislative elections. Fernandez has also been critical of some members of the Justicialist Party who have supported the government in a move to ban strikes in public transportation.
Now, the opposition will be split into three main blocs and may end up fighting for the same votes. Besides Fernandez's new party and the Justicialist Party, there will be the Renewal Front, headed by lawmaker Sergio Massa. To create a stronger front after the primaries, the Justicialist Party and the Citizen's Unity Party could try to work out a political alliance, but for now Macri may have the divided opposition his coalition needs to hold on to power.