Elections will be held in Argentina this October to elect one-third of the Senate and half of the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress. The Cambiemos big-tent coalition of ruling parties expects to improve its political position by increasing its representation in both houses. It is very likely that it will succeed in doing so, but without being able to win sufficient seats to have a majority in either of them.

Of the 24 senators whose term will expire in December 2017, only three belong to the government alliance. Cambiemos will therefore definitely increase its representation in the Senate by maintaining all its current seats and obtaining as many as six additional ones. But, even with this result, the alliance’s bloc in the upper house will only total 21 seats in a 72-member Senate.

Cambiemos currently holds 87 seats in the Chamber of Deputies of which 17 will be at stake this year. The expectation is that a good election could allow it to reach about 100 deputies in a 257-member house.

The greatest loser is expected to be the Kirchnerista branch of the Partido Justicialista (PJ) — also referred to as Partido Peronista in memory of its founder, General Juan Domingo Perón — and the Frente para la Victoria (FPV) alliance that it heads. The senators and deputies whose terms expire this year were elected six years ago, in 2011, and four years ago, in 2013, respectively. At the time, the PJ and the FPV were dominated by former president Cristina Kirchner, who was able to hand-pick numerous candidates. Furthermore, the FPV won a spectacular victory in 2011 and did fairly well in 2013.

FPV will lose seats in 2017 because it will not be able to repeat the results obtained in the previous elections. Of greater importance than the actual number of seats however, is the allegiance of the new legislators that may be elected this year. It is reasonable to think that the overwhelming number of seats retained by Peronists will be occupied by more traditional, non-Kirchnerista members of the PJ and by leaders of Peronist extraction who have left the party to join Sergio Massa’s Frente Renovador.

This is an excerpt from an article in this month’s Argentina Strategic Brief – for more information please contact us at info@menas.co.uk.