Argentina’s current government is the result of the 2015 successful presidential election campaign that pitted the Cambiemos alliance with Mauricio Macri as its candidate against the Frente para la Victoria coalition — controlled by former president Cristina Kirchner — that had Buenos Aires Province’s former governor, Daniel Scioli, as its candidate.
The two main political forces that formed Cambiemos are Macri’s own Propuesta Republicana (PRO) party and the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) party which was created in the 19th century. The UCR is much larger than PRO and has a strong presence in the whole country but, in 2015, it lacked a leader with nationwide appeal. By contrast, PRO had an organisation that was restricted to a few major districts but Macri enjoyed wide recognition among the voters.
In 2015, the presidential candidate was the essential cog in the electoral machine. By contrast, in the 2017 legislative elections — although the president and his record will play an important role, and some key national issues will determine many votes — these races will mainly pit local leaders against each other over local issues. In fact, rather than one national campaign, we will see 24 provincial races, with some key national figures supporting their local candidates but without themselves playing leading roles in the elections. Under such circumstances the UCR’s commitment to the Cambiemos alliance becomes even more important than in the presidential election.
The UCR is internationally aligned with socialist and social-democratic movements. It is logical for some important minority of party members, who see Macri as a conservative, to question the party’s leadership’s acceptance of his presidential candidacy. After almost two years since Cambiemos was established, a UCR convention — held in February in the Córdoba Province — met with great expectation.
To some observers’ surprise the UCR ratified its commitment to Cambiemos. Furthermore, it called for its strengthening by transforming what many Radical leaders see as an electoral and congressional alliance into a true government coalition. Radical leaders currently hold five ministerial portfolios and occupy many other senior positions in the Administration. The few key members of Macri’s entourage, however, are all from his own Propuesta Republicana (PRO) party.
This is an excerpt from an article in this month’s Argentina Strategic Brief – for more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.