Argentina's center-left, socialist parties view 2015

New front seeks to take on the ruling party in the 2015 presidential election

Argentina's center-left, socialist parties view 2015

World Bulletin/News Desk

Argentina’s leading center-left and socialist political parties have formed a coalition for the 2015 presidential election, the latest challenge to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as high inflation, rising crime and a slowing economy drives up social discontent. 

Leaders of eight parties agreed to create Frente Amplio UNEN, or Broad Front UNEN, late Tuesday in a packed downtown theater in Buenos Aires. 

The coalition said on its Facebook page that it will offer “an alternative” to promote more “solidarity, participation and equality” in society through improved education and welfare. Other focuses will be on reducing poverty, crime and the trafficking of drugs and humans. 

“Together we are going to challenge a way of government that confuses state with government and public interests with private business,” the coalition said.  

Front for Victory, which has ruled since 2003, has faced a series of alleged corruption scandals involving figures like Vice President Amado Boudou. Other complaints have centered on the awarding of state contracts to friends and a surge in the wealth of officials since coming to power. 

Fernandez de Kirchner won her second four-year term in 2011 with 52 percent of the vote on the back of an economy which has grown robustly since 2003.

But her popularity has dwindled since the economy started souring in 2012, with most economists now saying a recession is around the corner and inflation could surpass 35 percent. 

“A lot of sectors of the population are tired with the ruling party,” said Carlos Germano, a political analyst at Carlos Germano y Asociados. “They are looking for an alternative.”

Indeed, UNEN came second in the October 2013 congressional elections in Buenos Aires City, a stronghold for Mayor Mauricio Macri, a conservative businessman with presidential ambitions. While Macri’s party came first, UNEN beat the president’s candidates.

The coalition brings together five possible presidential candidates, including Hermes Binner, a socialist and former governor of Santa Fe province and Julio Cobos, a former vice president under Fernandez de Kirchner and a leader of the Radical Civic Union, the country’s second-biggest party. The others are Senator Ernesto Sanz (Radical), Senator Fernando “Pino” Solanas (UNEN) and Congresswoman Elisa Carrio (UNEN), who came second in the 2007 presidential election.

With such heavyweights, the egos of each candidate will be the biggest challenge for the success of the coalition, Germano said.

“If the leaders can put aside their egocentrism so that the coalition is more important than any one individual, they could have a chance of reaching the ballotage in the presidential election,” he said. 

The ruling party, which has support of about third of the electorate, has come out to attack the new coalition.

Jorge Capitanich, the president’s chief of staff, said in a televised press conference Wednesday that the coalition “has a lot of experience in hyperinflation,” making reference to Radical President Raul Alfonsin, who resigned early in 1989 as prices surged.

Capitanich also slammed the Radical’s failure to pull the economy out of a four-year recession that culminated in a 2001-02 crisis and the resignation of Fernando de la Rua during bloody riots in 2001.

While Fernandez de Kirchner has not yet named a successor, her party is facing a rise in competition.

A defect from her party, Sergio Massa, her former chief of cabinet, is running in front in polls for the presidential race with 29 percent of the votes, according to Poliarquia Consultores. The poll, which was made last month before the creation of Broad Front UNEN, shows Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli second with 21 percent, Macri third with 17 percent, Cobos fourth with 11 percent and Binner fifth with 7.7 percent.

Federico Mac Dougall, an economist and political analyst at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, said that each of the coalition’s candidates brings 2-3 percent of the votes to the coalition, bolstering its chances to reach the second round.

“They are going to create a strong party,” he said. “But the question is whether that is enough to create a strong government.”

Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2014, 23:23
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