Cristina Fernández to lead new alliance in Argentina elections Fiery populist’s comeback threatens to split opposition vote in legislative midterms

Cristina Fernández to lead new alliance in Argentina elections Fiery populist’s comeback threatens to split opposition vote in legislative midterms

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will run for senator in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s most important electoral district

A crisis blighting Argentina’s opposition Peronist movement deepened after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president, confirmed that she will lead a new alliance into midterm legislative elections in October.

The fiery populist’s political comeback, after her eight-year stint as president ended in 2015, threatens to split the opposition vote, favouring President Mauricio Macri’s party, while the Peronist movement will now head into the elections divided into three separate forces.

Ms Fernández, who launched the Citizen Unity alliance last week as a separate group from the traditional Peronist party she once led, confirmed on Saturday that she would run for senator in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s most important electoral district. The race for the province of Buenos Aires, which contains nearly 40 per cent of the electorate and has long been the heartland of Peronism, will be decisive for the outcome of the elections, as it was in the 2015 presidential race. The overall result of the elections will have an important bearing on the success of Mr Macri’s market-friendly economic reform programme.

Ms Fernández will face up against two other Peronists in what is Argentina’s largest province. The traditional Peronist party, known as the Justicialist party, will be led by Florencio Randazzo, who served as interior minister when Ms Fernandez was president. Another breakaway of the Peronist movement will be led by Sergio Massa, a one-time cabinet chief in Ms Fernández’s administration in 2008-09.

Mr Massa’s strong performance in the province of Buenos Aires in the previous midterm elections in 2013 in effect prevented Ms Fernández from seeking re-election in the 2015 presidential elections.

 Analysts say that the fracturing of the Peronist movement, which has dominated Argentine politics for the past 70 years and was in power for the 14 years preceding Mr Macri’s 2015 victory, is likely to favour the government.

The unexpected victory of María Eugenia Vidal for Mr Macri’s party in the race for the governorship of the province of Buenos Aires in the 2015 presidential and gubernatorial elections was crucial for president’s overall victory.

Mr Macri’s officials hope the popularity of Ms Vidal, who is Argentina’s most popular politician, will help to swing the vote in the government’s favour in the province of Buenos Aires.

Nevertheless, Ms Fernández retains strong support in the poorest areas of the urban sprawl surrounding the capital city, even though in most of the rest of the country she has high disapproval ratings.

 Many believe that Ms Fernández wants to return to congress in order to secure legal immunity at a time when she faces a barrage of corruption cases for charges including illicit association, embezzlement and money laundering. She has denied the allegations.

She would benefit from the same immunity that helped Carlos Menem, Argentina’s president throughout the 1990s. He avoided jail despite being found guilty of arms smuggling and embezzlement.

A crisis blighting Argentina’s opposition Peronist movement deepened after Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president, confirmed that she will lead a new alliance into midterm legislative elections in October.

The fiery populist’s political comeback, after her eight-year stint as president ended in 2015, threatens to split the opposition vote, favouring President Mauricio Macri’s party, while the Peronist movement will now head into the elections divided into three separate forces.

Ms Fernández, who launched the Citizen Unity alliance last week as a separate group from the traditional Peronist party she once led, confirmed on Saturday that she would run for senator in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s most important electoral district. The race for the province of Buenos Aires, which contains nearly 40 per cent of the electorate and has long been the heartland of Peronism, will be decisive for the outcome of the elections, as it was in the 2015 presidential race. The overall result of the elections will have an important bearing on the success of Mr Macri’s market-friendly economic reform programme.

Ms Fernández will face up against two other Peronists in what is Argentina’s largest province. The traditional Peronist party, known as the Justicialist party, will be led by Florencio Randazzo, who served as interior minister when Ms Fernandez was president. Another breakaway of the Peronist movement will be led by Sergio Massa, a one-time cabinet chief in Ms Fernández’s administration in 2008-09.

Mr Massa’s strong performance in the province of Buenos Aires in the previous midterm elections in 2013 in effect prevented Ms Fernández from seeking re-election in the 2015 presidential elections.

 Analysts say that the fracturing of the Peronist movement, which has dominated Argentine politics for the past 70 years and was in power for the 14 years preceding Mr Macri’s 2015 victory, is likely to favour the government.

The unexpected victory of María Eugenia Vidal for Mr Macri’s party in the race for the governorship of the province of Buenos Aires in the 2015 presidential and gubernatorial elections was crucial for president’s overall victory.

Mr Macri’s officials hope the popularity of Ms Vidal, who is Argentina’s most popular politician, will help to swing the vote in the government’s favour in the province of Buenos Aires.

Nevertheless, Ms Fernández retains strong support in the poorest areas of the urban sprawl surrounding the capital city, even though in most of the rest of the country she has high disapproval ratings.

 Many believe that Ms Fernández wants to return to congress in order to secure legal immunity at a time when she faces a barrage of corruption cases for charges including illicit association, embezzlement and money laundering. She has denied the allegations.

She would benefit from the same immunity that helped Carlos Menem, Argentina’s president throughout the 1990s. He avoided jail despite being found guilty of arms smuggling and embezzlement.

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