Alberto Fernández will become the president of the national PJ in March 2021. Máximo Kirchner will become president of the PJ Bonaerense in February of the same year. No later than March, along with the President. Unless a handful of Peronist mayors from the suburbs are willing to let the blood reach the river, the movement on the thrones of the Justicialist Party It will be in a mirror and will generate a balance within Frente de Todos.
The governing coalition is experiencing an internal discussion of power that, according to the protagonists, has no risk of ending in an unscrupulous battle. There will be, and there is, a lot of tension in each discussion, but the unity of the space built to reach the presidency in 2019 is not at stake. They are, a priori, expressions of desire and will. Because in Peronism there are no irrefutable truths. Except for the maxims of its founder.
On Sunday morning the President made a specific gesture of support for Máximo Kirchner, who claims to be the president of the PJ in the province of Buenos Aires and who he got upset with three suburban mayors whom he accused of doing media operations against him. He also fooled them that put conditions to allow his arrival to the presidency. He made it known at a barbecue he shared with other mayors, last Wednesday, in Lomas de Zamora, where the local mayor, Martín Insaurralde, served as host.
Those targeted were Juan Zabaleta (Hurlingham), Gustavo “Tano” Menéndez (Merlo) and Fernando Gray (Esteban Echeverría). The first is the communal head closest to the head of state and a permanent interlocutor between the mayors and the Casa Rosada. The other two are heavyweights from the suburbs who govern, alternately, the PJ Bonaerense. None attended the barbecue in Lomas.
Máximo Kirchner wants to reach the presidency with consensus. So he hinted. He knows that sooner or later that agreement on his figure will be generated. He has the backing of his mother and the President. In addition, that of several mayors who promoted his name, as is the case of Insaurralde, with which some of his colleagues are upset and remember how low he led the Esmeralda Group in 2016 under the slogan of leaving Kirchnerism on the road.
“He is a great leader, capable of dialogue and prepared. He has all the virtues to hold a position of that nature “Fernández assured in a radio interview. In this way, he tried to make it clear what path the discussion for the party presidency should follow for him. Strong support.
The President wants Máximo to occupy that place. Understand that it is a sign of internal balance in an electoral year and after long months where his relationship with Cristina Kirchner was frozen. In the last week, when the anger of the PJ mayors had begun to run through the underground pipes of Peronism, he asked the Minister of the Interior, Eduardo “Wado” De Pedro, and the Minister of Public Works, Gabriel Katopodis, to undo the conflict and manage the agreements.
Previously, in early December, Pedro had called him Gray, current vice president of the PJ Bonaerense, to tell him the action plan and anticipate that there was consensus within the Government for Máximo Kirchner to assume the leadership of the party. He anticipated his departure and that way of announcing it fell very badly to the mayor of Esteban Echeverría. He felt it like an onslaught sponsored by La Cámpora.
The two ministers received the order from Fernández to advance in the negotiations with the mayors so that the consensus is broad. Several mayors had sent the President the endorsement for the son of Cristina Kirchner to assume the leadership and thus be able to synthesize in the presidencies of the PJ the representation of the members of the Frente de Todos. Pure balance to loosen internal tensions.
In the Government they interpreted as a good gesture that the change of command that should have been made in December, between Gray and Menéndez, has been postponed. To have done it could have been read as a sign of resistance. For now, the mayor of Merlo will continue to lead the presidency and the negotiations for the change of president will continue in parallel.
On the weekend there were cross-talk and calls between De Pedro, Katopodis, Gray, Zabaleta and Menéndez. Also a meeting in which they tried to smooth the rough edges and order a negotiation in the short term to define the details that remain to be finalized. Formalities such as setting a date for an early election, negotiating the members of the Council and Congress, and specifying the proper names that will be on the lists of councilors. The request of the ministers was to conduct the negotiations in a peaceful manner.
“Everything can be discussed except unity”, a suburban mayor warned before the consultation of Infobae. What the communal chiefs who planted themselves on the sidewalk in front of Kirchnerism are looking for in the negotiation is for agreements to be built. They don’t like the K shapes. Except for the ultra K shapes, like La Cámpora. But they are not willing to dynamite the political army.
The PJ mayors are pragmatic. Everything can be negotiated. But they do not accept that they want to pass them by. The forms ended up being more important than the background. However, what was quickly interpreted was Alberto Fernández’s public message. No mayor is strong enough to contradict Alberto and Cristina’s word. They are not suicidal either.
The endurance game is over. What remains is to negotiate on good terms and articulate the assumption of Máximo. The wishes of the communal chiefs of the interior remained in the way, which are refractory to the leadership of the leader of La Cámpora and historically maintained differences with the way of doing politics of Cristina Kirchner.
In addition to internal balance, there is another political objective that surrounds the arrival of Kirchner to the party: the integration of Kirchnerism to the Buenos Aires PJ. So far they were two different political spaces. With different codes on how to build power, do politics and negotiate agreements. Fernández found the unity of the two spaces at the gates of the legislative elections an interesting move.
The landing of Máximo in the party would serve him to finish positioning himself in the province of Buenos Aires, the territory where Kirchnerism is strong and where Cristina Kirchner will have an enormous influence to define the lists of candidates in the next elections. It is at this point where the mayors also feel that the K sector of the coalition wants to advance on them. “La Cámpora goes for everything. First by the party and then by the municipalities “, reflected a community leader of experience.
In the multiple negotiations that were opened through different channels, another issue that came into play was indefinite re-elections of mayors, an issue that Alberto Fernández had put on the agenda when he assured in a meeting in Avellaneda that there should be no limits for them to be re-elected. Keep thinking the same.
In some conversation, the idea of supporting Kirchner’s arrival to the PJ was present and in exchange requesting the support of Kirchnerism to make a joint judicial presentation and seal the law. Or, as a second option, force an interpretation different from the one that currently exists, which marks that they will only be able to govern two consecutive terms. The law was enacted in 2017 and includes the mandate that began in 2015.
The K provincial legislators were the only ones who opposed this law promoted by the government of María Eugenia Vidal and backed by the Frente Renovador de Sergio Massa. Therefore in La Cámpora they argue that the claim and request for support must go in the direction of the president of the Chamber of Deputies and not towards them.
Another of the battles behind the election of Máximo has to do with a bid for power between the mayors of the first and third electoral sections of Buenos Aires. A historic showdown. In that duel, Juan Zabaleta, a reference in the first section, appears gaining influence among his peers due to his closeness to the Casa Rosada, while Martín Insaurralde, a historical member of the third section, tries to gain ground after occupying a central role as an interlocutor in the government of Vidal.
That is one of the readings that they do in Kirchnerism, where they believe that there is a fight to build leadership over the total of mayors and that it is concealed behind the conflict between the communal chiefs and La Cámpora, and the election of Máximo Kirchner to be the president of the party. In short, a fight to be the head of the mayors of the province.
Another issue in question is box. The PJ Bonaerense will receive a large outlay of money, assigned by the electoral law, for having obtained 52% of the votes in the last election that Axel Kicillof won. A lot of money at stake. The Governor does not get into that conflict. Pretend to look outside. He was never a lover of the thread and has no intention of stepping on the mud.
The internal Front of All is real. There are cross interests. Misgivings, ambitions and needs. Although not in the same way, it also happened when Cambiemos was in power. The chess movements and proper names that the results of the negotiations show expose the complications of coexistence, and the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders that make up the governing coalition.
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