This is the last time that you’ll read about the PASO primaries in the Weekly News, I promise. But don’t sip that morning coffee too triumphantly: next up are the actual legislative elections in October. This was just the first round.
I know. Let’s get updates on this weekend with the most interesting take possible on the PASO.
- It should be clarified from the beginning that the official, set-in-stone results aren’t out yet. The numbers keep coming in and changing the results: in general, it would seem that the government alliance Cambiemos has done much better than expected on a national level, winning in key provinces like Córdoba and Mendoza as well as Santa Cruz province, historically a Kirchnerite hotspot. The main victory for Cambiemos came in the form of a landslide for the Vamos Juntos pre-candidate for Congress in the Buenos Aires City, Elisa Carrió. Read more: Live Coverage of Argentina’s 2017 PASO Primaries
- Buenos Aires province is the one everyone is looking at, with Cambiemos’ Esteban Bullrich and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner looking to win seats in the national Senate in October. At the time of this Weekly News, there’s talk of a “technical draw,” with only 6,000 votes separating Bullrich from Cristina in a province with 9 million voters (34.19 percent to 34.11 percent respectively.) Basically, there are still votes that have to be counted and it’s too close to call. Secretary of Political Affairs of the Interior Ministry Adrián Pérez has told different radio shows that it’s time to simply wait for the official (and legally binding) results to come out.
- These PASO elections were characterized by an overall saturation in the media of candidates’ campaigns and a series of blunders. Given that, it might not be surprising that voter turnout was at a record low this year, with 70 to 73 percent of registered voters showing up (it’s only the second PASO election Argentina’s had, but still.) That number may be a dream for many countries, but the PASO are supposed to be mandatory (the “O” in PASO stands for “obligatory,” after all.) Those who didn’t vote in the PASO will be able to vote in the elections in October, but they’ll have to justify why they didn’t do so and pay a fine if the reason for their absence isn’t good enough.
- Speaking of absences: one of the main news over the weekend was that Cristina did not vote in the PASO elections, for which she was sharply criticized and defended from all sides. What isn’t particularly clear is why: she was supposed to vote in Santa Cruz province, over 2,500 kilometers away from Buenos Aires where she spent the day yesterday, and blamed a lack of Aerolíneas Argentinas flights to the province for her absence. Her running partner, the former Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, supported this view by telling the press that “She didn’t have enough time to go back to vote and return. We’ll have to ask the company why they’ve reduced the amount of flights.” You can bet that Aerolíneas Argentinas responded by saying that Cristina had 14 available weekly flights with 30 seats to two different provincial cities had she wanted to vote in Santa Cruz. Criticisms from Cambiemos ranged from “Ask her!” to “It’s inexcusable.”
- That wasn’t the only thing that failed to go smoothly yesterday. There were power cuts and only 37 voting stalls opened on time in the City of Buenos Aires, for example. However, some issues were more dramatic: one municipal pre-candidate in Catamarca province died of a heart attack during an argument over the “veda electoral” (or “electoral ban”), a fugitive accused of drug trafficking showed up to vote in Tucumán province after being on the run since July of last year and the mayor of Buenos Aires City Horacio Rodríguez Larreta ended up having to put ice on his nose after a painting fell (corner-first, ouch) onto his face during a breakfast/press conference.
- Former President Carlos S. Menem — BA has in the past described him as a mix of former US President Ronald Reagan and Voldemort — was a candidate in the PASO elections over the weekend. He won in his home province of La Rioja, despite the fact that he’s not exactly approved as a candidate. Menem had supposedly been disqualified by the National Election Chamber but the Supreme Court decided not to rule on the issue until after the elections (really helpful.) The elections went ahead with Menem’s ticket, which had already been printed, and won. “As of now, I’m a candidate. Don’t try to confuse people,” said Menem to the press.
- Quickly, let’s get some non-PASO-related news. There were updates on the Santiago Maldonado case, the 28-year-old who’s been missing since August 1 and last seen in a Mapuche protest, for which the government and Border Patrol have been undergoing a lot of pressure as Argentines demand that he show up safe and sound. While Friday saw a big march in Plaza de Mayo, 300 people also marched in the Southern town of El Bolsón where Maldonado lived. During that march, which also protested against the Border Patrol and the “repressive State,” an Argentine flag was burnt, so a counter-march was organized in support of national institutions (but also demanding that Maldonado reappear alive and well.) Maldonado’s house in El Bolsón was raided on Saturday along with the local Border Patrol headquarters in search of evidence: hair and blood allegedly belonging to him was found in a Border Patrol truck on Friday. Maldonado’s brother Sergio has questioned the government’s proceedings and criticized Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, who for her part said that the family needed to “cooperate more.” Yesterday, boards in classrooms across the country used for voting had “Where is Santiago Maldonado?” written on them. Let’s hope there’s more news this week. Read more: The Controversy Over Santiago Maldonado’s Disappearance Explained
Go forth and show yourselves to be well informed, my loyal Monday readers!