Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BUENOSAIRES470
2009-04-23 18:49:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Buenos Aires
Cable title:  

ARGENTINA ELECTIONS: RADICALS INVITE PRODIGAL

Tags:  PGOV PREL ECON AR 
pdf how-to read a cable
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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0470/01 1131849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231849Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3587
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000470 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA ELECTIONS: RADICALS INVITE PRODIGAL
CHILDREN HOME; PRO'S MICHETTI ANNOUNCES IN BA

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 0402

B. BUENOS AIRES 0452

C. BUENOS AIRES 0429

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000470

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA ELECTIONS: RADICALS INVITE PRODIGAL
CHILDREN HOME; PRO'S MICHETTI ANNOUNCES IN BA

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 0402

B. BUENOS AIRES 0452

C. BUENOS AIRES 0429


1. (SBU) Summary: Building on the positive public sentiments
generated by the memorializing of the late President Raul
Alfonsin (ref A),Argentina's once-dominant Radical Party
(UCR) continued its gradual return to relevance with a
successful national convention April 17-18 in Mar del Plata.
The convention officially annulled the party's
excommunication of Radicals who aligned with the Kirchner
Victory Front in 2007, including Argentine VP Julio Cobos.
Civic Coalition (CC) leader Elisa Carrio, a former UCR
member, embraced Alfonsin's son Ricardo Alfonsin as the two
parties prepared to run together in the June mid-terms. In
its stronghold of Buenos Aires city, the UCR-CC-Socialist
coalition will face-off against a list headed by PRO
(Republican Proposal) star and former Vice Mayor Gabriela
Michetti, who moved off the fence April 20 by announcing she
would resign her job as Mayor Mauricio Macri's deputy and
head PRO's national deputy list in the city. Current polls
reportedly give Michetti a 10 or more point advantage over a
CC-UCR ticket. End Summary.

The Alfonsin Effect
--------------


2. (U) Argentina's once-great party of the middle class, the
Radical Civic Union (UCR),continued its slow return from the
wreckage of the failed de la Rua presidency with a hopeful
national convention April 17-18 in Mar del Plata. The
meeting built on commemorations of the late Raul Alfonsin,
whose March 31 death provoked a non-partisan upwelling of
national pride in Argentina's democracy (ref A). Convention
speakers contrasted Alfonsin's role in restoring democracy
and the UCR's emphasis on governing institutions with what
they alleged to be political aggrandizement and dishonesty
under the Peronist administrations of President Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) and former President Nestor
Kirchner.


3. (U) The focus of the UCR Convention was on the
reintegration of strayed Radicals, including Vice President
Julio Cobos (previously banned "for life" by the party for
running alongside CFK as part of the Victory Front in 2007).
Cobos was invited to rejoin the party when he ceases to be
Vice President under CFK. Cobos, who had planned to attend

the convention, announced in the days leading up to it that
he would not attend because he would be serving as acting
President while President Kirchner was attending the Summit
of the Americas.


4. (U) Also coming home, though she did not rejoin the party,
was Civic Coalition (CC) leader and former Radical Elisa
Carrio. Carrio, the runner-up to CFK in the 2007
presidential contest, was given a prominent speaking role at
the convention. Her praise for the values and policies
represented by the UCR won applause, as did her embrace of
Raul Alfonsin's son Ricardo at the close of the convention.
Socialist Party leader Ruben Giustiniani also attended. His
party represents the third piece of the left-of-center
alliance taking shape for the June 2009 mid-terms along with
the CC and the UCR, which varies per district.

Candidate Lists
--------------


5. (SBU) Not attending the convention was the CC's top
candidate for national deputy in the Province of Buenos Aires
(PBA),Margarita Stolbizer. (Note: She said she did not
attend because she was not invited; the UCR leadership told
the press no slight was intended in this. End Note.) A UCR
officer confirmed to PolOff April 21 that the parties have
agreed that Stolbizer will lead their combined ticket in PBA,
with Ricardo Alfonsin number two (despite the fact that "he
is now the more popular"). Some polls, the UCR officer said,
were showing close to a "three-way tie" in PBA among the
tickets expected to be headed by Nestor Kirchner-Daniel
Scioli, Francisco De Narvaez-Felipe Sola, and
Stolbizer-Alfonsin, though the Stolbizer-Alfonsin ticket was
in third place (see Ref B). (Note: Other polls show the
CC-UCR ticket trailing the other two by as many as ten or
twelve points. End Note.)


6. (U) For the city of Buenos Aires, UCR participants,
including Alfonsin, pressed Carrio to lead the CC-Radical
ticket against the strong PRO and dissident Peronist slate
thought likely to be led by popular PRO Vice Mayor Gabriela
Michetti (plans confirmed on April 20, see para 7). Carrio

stuck to her guns, saying that former Central Bank head
Alfonso Prat-Gay would head the ticket in Buenos Aires, while
repeating her willingness to run as second on the list, which
she expressed publicly shortly before the convention. On
April 21 she announced she would take third place, behind
Prat-Gay and UCR representative Ricardo Gil Lavedra. Her
original position had been not to run for Congress at all,
then to let herself appear "seventh or eighth".

Michetti Takes the Plunge
--------------


7. (U) Ending nearly ten months of speculation and public
tribulations, Buenos Aires Vice Mayor Gabriela Michetti on
April 20 resigned her position and announced she would head
the PRO ticket for Congress in BA city. Resignation was not
a requirement to her appearing on the candidate slate for the
mid-terms, but Michetti said she wanted to contrast the PRO's
approach to elections with that of the ruling Peronists,
particularly their decision to run what the press and
opposition call "testimonial" candidates (Note: CFK has
objected to the term, but it has stuck. Per ref C, it refers
to elected officials whose names will appear as candidates on
ballots to boost their party ticket's vote tallies but who
have made clear they will not give up their executive branch
positions to take their legislative seats if elected, turning
the seats over to alternates. End Note). Michetti also said
it had become too difficult for the city to work with the
national government because of political rivalries and that
she did not want to exacerbate the problem by acting as a
congressional candidate and vice mayor. According to press
reports, Michetti is leading in current polls by 10 percent
or more over a CC-UCR ticket.

Comment: Inching Back into the Fray
--------------


8. (SBU) The UCR is reemerging as a credible organization in
Argentine politics, but still one with only a modest popular
following. Its worthy traditions of government investment in
education and governing institutions have been shining more
brightly for Argentines as they recall the promise of Raul
Alfonsin's presidency and as more and more of them express
concerns about the Kirchners' governing style. Indeed, the
UCR is one of the few parties in Argentina that honors some
of the institutional formalities of a party by holding
primaries and conventions, electing party authorities, etc.
It also nominally retains a nationwide structure. The UCR
was wise to strike an alliance with the CC and the Socialists
for this year's mid-term elections. In 2011, the UCR could
conceivably run behind the man who today is Argentina's most
popular politician, Vice President Julio Cobos. Whether the
Radicals' alliance with the CC and the Socialists would hold
up in that case will be a major question, but it is one that
does not have to be answered until after the mid-terms.
WAYNE