The Politicians that Could Keep Kirchnerism in Power after the Sentence of Cristina Fernández

Facing the 2023 presidential elections and with the sentence of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Kirchnerism will have to rethink its strategy to maintain power. Who will be its candidates? 

Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Kirchner

Photo: Everyone’s Front

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Los perfiles que podrían mantener en el poder al kirchnerismo tras la sentencia a Cristina Fernández

"D-Day" arrived, on December 6 the sentence of Vice President Cristina Fernández was announced for the "Vialidad" case, where Fernández was accused of corruption during her presidential administration. Less than a year before the presidential elections in Argentina, the opposition and the government were making their moves in political chess. However, the sentence has come to change the game for the Fernández government, which hoped to continue. Kirchnerism will now have to look for new options to face the contest.

Cristina Fernández and Kirchnerism with "the Rope Around Her Neck"

The former president and current vice president of Argentina was already waiting for the result of the sentence that condemns her to six years in prison and, as if that were not enough, to disqualification for life from holding public office. The "Vialidad" case, in which Fernández was identified as the head of a corruption network that embezzled the country's coffers for up to a billion dollars, has cause inconvenient for her career the last 5 years. With the vice presidency, she gained time, but it seems that Argentine justice has reached her. From being one of the most powerful figures of the last decade in the country, she now sees her career in difficulties.

Although it must be clarified that her public office still protects her, the vice president has clarified that she will not seek any position in 2023 to avoid that protection. What is a fact is that while the former president works to keep her freedom and her career afloat, Kirchnerism will have to depend on other profiles if it wants to maintain power, or at least survive the next election where they are behind the opposition in the list of favorites.

The Family, the First Option?

Power in Argentina has been in the hands of the Kirchners and their associates for the last 20 years. After the deep economic crisis of 2001, Kirchnerism took Argentines out of that scenario. However, over time the concentration of power, corruption and new economic problems ruined its image. Now that the polls do not favor Kirchnerism and that the freedom of the vice president is “in danger”, the family could be the first option. Specifically, we are referring to Máximo Kirchner, eldest son of former presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández. In 2021, as a deputy, his popularity was low, according to the polls at the time. Faced with a possible presidential candidacy, his highest acceptance was barely 30% in Santa Cruz, the Kirchner stronghold, and in Buenos Aires. In the rest of the provinces, it was less than 20%. Even with his low numbers, in the new scenario presented by his mother's sentence, the importance of his profile within the Kirchner current could change, although it certainly seems distant.

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The Profiles of Kirchnerism

Two names are especially important in the "Frente de todos," the ruling coalition: Eduardo "Wado" de Pedro and Sergio Massa. Although they are within the official coalition, they are not necessarily part of Kirchnerism. In the case of Sergio Massa he even represents a faction by himself, the "massismo", or the "albertismo" of the current president, to mention two examples. Even so, massismo, albertismo and kirchnerismo, among other factions, continue on the Peronist spectrum and need each other if they want to continue in power.

Sergio Massa, current Minister of the Economy, had been ruled out as a candidate. However, the new scenario could “force” him to seek power through the "Frente de todos". Everything will depend on his management of the economic crisis. The case of "Wado" of Pedro, Minister of the Interior, is that of a character loyal to Kirchnerism. Máximo Kirchner himself “uncovered” him as one of the coalition's strong candidates. De Pedro was not opposed to this proposal, assuring that he will do "what Peronism asks of him", which does not rule it out.

Behind them is Daniel Scioli, former vice president and former presidential candidate, close to Kirchnerism and loyal to Cristina Fernández. The current Argentine ambassador in Brazil supported an eventual candidacy of the vice president, but the new scenario could make him change his mind. Scioli is a strong profile, he lost the presidency to Mauricio Macri in a close election during the second round, so his political weight could be a relevant factor. Something that would undoubtedly benefit Cristina Fernández.

There are other names that sound like Juan Grabois, close to the vice president, but with radical leftist positions that do not fit the profile that the "Frente de todos" needs. Despite this, he has already spoken, saying that he would govern better than Alberto Fernández and Mauricio Macri.

Finally, a well-positioned name is that of Axel Kicillof, former minister during the governments of Cristina Fernández and governor of Buenos Aires. Kicillof seeks re-election as governor of the province, but the situation of the "Frente de todos" could give him the opportunity to be a presidential candidate. Kicillof would only wait for the vice president's request to accept being a candidate, but he has a problem that is not minor, his enmity with Máximo Kirchner due to differences in government issues could reduce support for an eventual candidacy.

The real difficulty of the "Frente de todos" is not only the profiles, in which for now no woman stands out, but the lack of agreements between its factions. There is a tough internal debate about whether to go to primaries to define candidates, the situation of Cristina Fernández will only make the debate more intense a few months after the election.


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